Waiting for the Rain

Wednesday June 20th 2018

Mother Nature couldn’t decide if today should be cloudy or rainy. Sometime in the early morning hours it started to rain lightly. It was just enough to wake me up from the noise on the roof, but it didn’t last long. Similar periods of very light rain lasting a few minutes at a time continued all day. Between showers it was cloudy and calm. It was a waiting game all day for the real rain to begin. Toward the supper hour the length of the rain showers got longer. By nightfall the rain was falling in earnest.

r3t2018-06-20_19-252

The calm between the showers.

The weather put my plans for riding my bicycle on the trails at Two Rivers park on hold. Riding in the rain is not fun even with the temperature in the mid to upper 80s. Tomorrow afternoon or Friday seem to have a better weather forecast, although the today’s forecast wasn’t very accurate. All of the moisture is coming from the remnants of a tropical depression in the Gulf of Mexico.

r3t2018-06-20_19-251

This guy hides in the tall grass along the riverbank.

r3t2018-06-20_19-253

These squirrels blend right in with the bark of the tree.

For excitement today I did some reading and travel research. My next stop is in the Memphis area. I’ve been trying to line up the things I want to do. I’ve fallen into a pattern of worrying over where I’m staying, but not about what I’ll do when I get there. Waiting until I’m in the location before starting to identify the activities has resulted in a lot of missed opportunities. I’m only going to be in the Memphis area for five nights so I can’t squander too much time figure out what I want to do. The second week of July I’ll be in the Pigeon Forge TN area. A similar planning concern for that area got some research today too.

r3t2018-06-20_19-254

Blossom of the day.

 

A Visit to Two Rivers Park

Tuesday June 19th 2018

There were a few more clouds in the sky today. The sun was blocked periodically by the moving cloud cover, so the temperature only got up into the high 80s. It was still very humid and there was a chance of showers at any time. This area made it through the day without any rain falling.

r3t2018-06-19_20-431

One of the fields along a trail at Two Rivers Park. The fluffy clouds were visible in all directions.

I spent some time walking the trails at the Two Rivers Park. This public park is owned by Pulaski County and the City of Little Rock. It contains trails and open ground at the confluence of the Little Maumelle and Arkansas Rivers. There is a lot of ground to cover. I want to go back with my bicycle to ride the trails deeper into the park.

r3t2018-06-19_20-412

Great White Egret.

On the way into the park I caught a glimpse of a deer across the fields at the tree line. It was gone before I could stop the car to get a picture, but it was a good omen. My first stop was near the deepest part of the park serviced by the road loop. I found an intriguing dock for launching canoes or kayaks. The water was a field of lily pads, but the map said it fed into the Little Maumelle river as part of an eight mile canoe trail. It might be fun coming down river to this location as the end of the trail. Paddling up stream the whole way would be a long haul.

r3t2018-06-19_20-413

Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron ??

My second stop was at a bigger parking lot about halfway from the entrance near a restroom. This seemed to be the most popular parking area. I walked about a half a mile out the trail before turning around to reserve some adventure for a bike ride another day. On the way out I passed a swampy area with some wading birds. One bird was clearly a Great White Egret and the other was possibly a Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron. From the swamp I moved into an open field area. I kept my eyes open for deer, but didn’t spot any. Once across the field the trail started down a tree lined path that didn’t look particularly interesting, so I turned around.

r3t2018-06-19_20-414

Egret and two fawns.

When I passed the swamp with the birds, I spotted some new arrivals. Two little deer that still had their juvenile spots were wading in the water with the birds. I was about 200 feet away on the trail. I watched and took pictures for several minutes waiting for mamma deer to arrive or otherwise show herself. When the Egret left so did I, the fawns just continued to cool off or graze in the swamp. A few minutes later I returned for one last look. The birds and the fawns were gone, but in their place was a large doe on the far side of the swamp. If this was mamma she got the kids back in the woods out of view by nosy people like me.

r3t2018-06-19_20-415

Large Doe on the far side of the swamp.

Today was a good wildlife viewing day.

r3t2018-06-19_20-411

Blossom of the day.

A Planning Day

Monday June 18th 2018

Today completed my first of two weeks here at the Army Corp of Engineers Maumelle Park. It was a very similar day to last Monday. The temperature was a little over 90 degrees with high humidity. A shower passed through the area late in the afternoon. It dumped a lot of rain in a short period of time, but there wasn’t much wind or signs of a thunderstorm.

r3t2018-06-18_20-393

Another view of the Arkansas river with light fluffy clouds before the rain shower moved in.

The campground really emptied out this morning. I estimate that half the sites were empty early this afternoon. By evening most of the vacant sites were filled. The fishermen were also back to their weekday pattern. There is very little activity until the work day starts to end. Many people come out to get a few hours of fishing in the evening. I actually saw one of the rare people fishing from shore catch a bass tonight. It was a good size fish, but not big enough to meet the fourteen inch legal size for Large Mouth Bass.

r3t2018-06-18_20-391

These geese were spooked by something. They were moving rapidly toward the water.

r3t2018-06-18_20-392

Mom, pop and baby make three.

The geese were back around today. I don’t know where they were hiding out yesterday. In some ways I wish they would go back into hiding. They make walking around difficult. You need to watch where you step and you need to be careful not to get between the adults and juveniles. An angry goose is not something I want to deal with.

r3t2018-06-18_20-394

A blue bird trying to dry off after taking a splash bath in the river’s edge.

Besides getting exercise walking around the park and watching the activity in the river I worked on planning out my travels for the next few weeks. When I leave here next week, I’ll travel to Memphis for a few days. I’m going to spend the Fourth of July holiday in Mississippi at one of the casinos in the Tunica area. I believe there are two fireworks shows and a couple of other fun things going on over the holiday. After the holiday I’ll head east across Tennessee. I’m going to skip the Nashville area and stop in the Pigeon Forge area instead. Finding a place to stay in the Nashville area was turning into a real planning obstacle. I may take a day trip to Nashville from about sixty miles away. After Pigeon Forge I will probably stop in Asheville NC unless I come up with a better idea. I’m only about half interested in the Biltmore Estate. All of this planning will get me into the coastal North Carolina area by the end of July. I’m starting to look at the Outer Banks for early August.

r3t2018-06-18_20-395

Follow the leader.

 

Hot and Slow Sunday

Sunday June 17th 2018

The official temperature was two degrees cooler than yesterday. You couldn’t prove it by me. It felt just as hot or hotter than yesterday. Tomorrow’s forecast has a higher chance of showers, but otherwise is just as hot.

r3t2018-06-17_19-411

Today’s puffy clouds.

The park wasn’t as busy today. There weren’t as many people fishing and the campground was a lot quieter too. The fathers day holiday was probably keeping people at home. One thing that did strike me as unusual was people having formal photographs being taken in the park. Two different groups, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, used the park and river as a background for family photos today. Both sets of people were dressed in their Sunday finest to pose for group photos. In one case the pictures were clearly being taken by a professional photographer complete with multiple cameras and tripods. Each was a multi-generational group of people and neither group appeared to having anything to do with a wedding. Crazy tradition, celebrating dad, I don’t know why they were getting pictures taken today or what is so photogenic about this location.

r3t2018-06-17_19-414

View down river of a few more fluffy clouds.

The local wildlife wasn’t as visible today. The geese and ducks weren’t wandering around. There were still plenty of squirrels. It seems like there is almost one squirrel per tree as they run across the ground and up the trees. If there is already a squirrel in the tree a mini battle ensues. There is a lot of squirrel chatter. The back of the park, away from the river, also has several feral or semi-feral cats. Walking along the trails in that area it is common to see a cat run across the path in front of you.

r3t2018-06-17_19-413For excitement today I went grocery shopping. In addition to the food I got some white vinegar to work on clearing up my shower head. I’ll know in the morning if a day of soaking has improved the flow through the shower head. If not I’ll move on to plan B. Whatever that is.

r3t2018-06-17_19-412

Blossom of the day.

 

Watching the Activity on Lake Murray

Saturday June 16th 2018

I don’t know if today was the warmest day I’ve experienced this “summer”, but it sure felt like it. The temperature topped out in the mid 90s. The TV weather talkers said that combined with the humidity the heat index was around 100.

r3t2018-06-16_20-381

Fluffy clouds in the sky north of the river.

r3t2018-06-16_20-382

This is a public park near a major city. I expected it to be a real zoo on the weekend, but it wasn’t too bad. Some of the campsites are even empty tonight having been vacated early this morning. I’ve only seen one or two sites that have turned into party central. These are under control gatherings that aren’t loud or disruptive. Overall it has been a quiet day.

r3t2018-06-16_20-384

Traffic jam at the boat ramp.

This section of the Arkansas river behind the Murray Dam is known as Murray Lake. During the week it has been getting a lot of use by fishermen. I expected more recreational boating this weekend. There wasn’t much. The number of fishing boats increased dramatically, but I only saw a couple of non fishing boating activities. One was a jet ski and the other was an oversized boat pulling a tube with a rider or two.

r3t2018-06-16_20-385

One jet ski came down into the area from up river.

r3t2018-06-16_20-387

This big boat was towing a tube for riders.

Between stays in the air conditioned comfort of my RV home or car, I got a few walks around the campground in during the day. As long as I stayed out of the direct sun it was tolerable. At times there was a nice breeze along the river.

r3t2018-06-16_20-386

r3t2018-06-16_20-383

Watching the River

Friday June 15th 2018

The temperature reached the mid 90s with the same high humidity that has been in place for the last week or so. The only difference today was a nice breeze from the northeast. The natives say the temperature and humidity are not normal for mid June. These conditions are more like July and August. I’m not going to complain about the weather. I chose to be in this part of the country at this time of year. It is far better than cool and rainy.

r3t2018-06-15_20-211

Looking out at the Arkansas River across a little island to the main channel.

r3t2018-06-15_20-213

Looking down river to the east along the bank. My campsite is in the trees on the bank beyond the grass.

r3t2018-06-15_20-212

Big houses with great views on the northern bank of the Arkansas River.

I spent most of the day enjoying the campground. That means walking around the various camping loops and watching the activity on the river. The fisherman in boats use the river in the morning and again in the late afternoon. The boat ramp is very near my campsite, so I get to see many boats being put in and taken out. I’ve yet to see anyone with fish. During the afternoon there isn’t much activity on the river. I imagine it’s just too hot in the direct sun.

r3t2018-06-15_20-214

The resident geese came back for another visit today. They arrived by water.

r3t2018-06-15_20-215

The boat ramp turned into a goose ramp.

The Arkansas River is part of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System. It’s made up of a series of dams, locks and canals to provide an inland water way from the Tulsa Oklahoma area through Arkansas to the Mississippi River. Using the waterway goods from inland areas in Oklahoma and Arkansas have access to major ports like New Orleans. I have only seen a few barges on the river, but the ones I’ve seen have been big. I missed catching a good view of a barge today. It was well by this area before I caught a glimpse as it disappeared to the northwest. They don’t make much noise as they pass.

r3t2018-06-15_20-216

A pair of ducks settle in for the night.

 

Maintenance Day

Thursday June 14th 2018

It was another mid 90s temperature day with high humidity. The only difference from the last couple of days was a lower chance of sever weather. The only sever weather reported was well north of here. This area made it through the day with nothing but sunshine.

r3t2018-06-14_21-291

This small family of geese came to visit my campsite today.

There are more than a few maintenance task associated with keeping my RV home up to its task. Many of them are simply part of my regular setup or take down associated with moving. Other tasks need less frequent attention and often get neglected. One of those is changing the water filter. This morning in the shower the water flow was slow and many of the streams from the shower head were not running. Changing the filter solved the flow issue, but I’m going to have to soak the shower head in something to get it unclogged. I’ll probably start with white vinegar.

r3t2018-06-14_21-292

This goose is on look out duty.

After the water filter change I moved on to some of the other low frequency maintenance tasks. The slide outs got lubricated and the sliding windows got their own form of lubricant. Everything gets a different type. I still need to check the water level in the house batteries and crawl under the dash to check the wiring to the backup camera. The last one is a repair more than maintenance, but needs to be done. The picture went out when I hit a bump on my way here. There is always something.

r3t2018-06-14_21-293

“You watch over there and I’ll keep an eye out this way while the kids eat.”

The campground is starting to fill up for the weekend. It has been mostly full all week, but you can tell the folks arriving today are more familiar with the park and are here for more than a night or two. For example, when the folks across the street started to setup the guy got out his portable satellite dish and paced off its location from the corner of the kitchen pad. Clearly, he had been on the site before and knew exactly where to put the dish to see the satellite through the trees.

I can also be wrong with my observations. The other day a small pop up trailer arrived at the site next door. They spent over ten minutes backing up, repositioning and backing in again all to find the perfect location. I was sure they were going to be here for a long time, but they were gone the next morning before I got up.

r3t2018-06-14_21-294

Time for a swim!  There were look outs on land watching while the others swam.

In addition to watching my neighbors come and go I’ve been watching the resident geese. The first few days I’ve been here the geese were in the western part of the campground. Today they came to visit me in the eastern part of the campground. They’re fun to watch, but you have to watch your step after they leave. A lot of little black turds cover the ground after they move on. It’s interesting how the gaggle works. The main group stays fairly close together, but smaller groups spread out a few hundred feet in various directions from the main group. Each group has one or more members on look out duty. A call from any one and all of the geese head in the same direction away from the warning cry.

r3t2018-06-14_21-295

I didn’t see any barge traffic today. This fast moving fishing boat was not a good substitute.

 

Stormy Day in Arkansas

Wednesday June 13th 2018

There was a lot of stormy weather in the area today. It was mostly cloudy all day, but still very hot and humid. During the late morning thunder started sounding to the south. It continued to threaten the rest of the day.

r3t2018-06-13_19-281

Bugs for lunch.

A sever thunderstorm watch was announced on the TV around 2pm. I always find out what county I’m in when I arrive in the area. The announcements are done by county not be community or other identifiable characteristic. It gets even more complicated when they announce other counties that the storm front is moving through. Knowing the county your in is one thing, knowing all the surrounding counties is a little too much to ask. I have to rely on my weather radar phone Aps to give me good insight.

r3t2018-06-13_19-283

Looking to the northwest with the storm to the south.

r3t2018-06-13_19-282

Barge heading up river shortly after the storm.

Today the actual sever weather stayed to the south. We got a brief period of rain in this area but none of the problem issues associated with the storms. The area to the south got strong winds that brought down trees and hail. The little rain we got lowered the temperature ten degrees or more. It was actually comfortable outside for a change.

r3t2018-06-13_19-285

I’ve stayed in the twenty five states in red during my Rambling Road Trip.  The two states in green were visited via my SUV while I was staying in nearby states. 

While I was stuck inside during the rain, I had a chance to reflect on the fact that Arkansas is the twenty fifth state that I’ve stayed in during my Rambling Road Trip. I’ve traveled through several others to get from place to place but can’t really take credit for a visit. I’ve visited two others, California and Wyoming, but I drove the SUV into those states while my RV home was in the neighboring state. I made an attempt at creating a map of my travels online. As I got it ready to include it in this blog post I noticed it was incorrect for traveled through states in the northeast. The motor home has never been in the State of New Hampshire, even though I lived there for thirty seven years. It hasn’t been in Vermont either. This falls travels should resolve those omissions.

 

A Day Around Camp

Tuesday June 12th 2018

There were scattered showers in the area today. One storm passed by close enough to provide about ten minutes of rain around noon. Other storms went around this area to the north. The occasional clouds kept the sun from heating everything up as warm as yesterday, but the humidity was still present. The temperature peaked around 90 degrees.

r3t2018-06-12_19-381

Marching to the water for an afternoon swim.

r3t2018-06-12_19-382

“Hey wait for us!”

I spent the day at home. I finished setting up the campsite for my two week stay and got familiar with the campground. This is the type of campground I like the best. There is a reasonable amount of space between sites, the area has trails to be near the wildlife and there is another form of entertainment. In this case the other form of entertainment is the Arkansas River with barge traffic and recreational boaters.

r3t2018-06-12_19-383

Clouds building to the northwest.

r3t2018-06-12_19-384

The storm area moves east on the north side of the river.

r3t2018-06-12_19-385

Looking east as the storm area moves on.

So far I’ve seen one tug pushing a set of barges each day. Monday evening one was headed up river and this evening one was headed down river. There may have been another one or two, but I didn’t see them. They slip by very quietly. Most of the recreational boat traffic is in the evening. The boat ramp is near my site. In the afternoon fishermen start arriving to launch their boats for a few hours of fishing in the river. I understand that it is a great fishery for large mouth bass. There is also a marina just up river from here. So far I haven’t seen much activity there. Maybe the weekend will change that.

r3t2018-06-12_19-386

Tug pushing a string of barges down river in the evening.

I haven’t finished exploring all of the park. So far I’ve checked out about two thirds of the water front area. There are other camping loops and a trail through the area inland from the river that I still need to explore. The heat and humidity have kept me from wandering too far. Staying out of the sun and in the breeze it’s not bad. The breeze isn’t constant and doesn’t seem to reach to far inland from the river bank.

 

Travel Day to the Little Rock Area

Monday June 11th 2018

The calendar may not agree, but summer has arrived in this area. The daily temperatures are consistent with July norms. It was very humid with highs in the mid 90s today.

Getting packed up and on the road was difficult this morning. For some reason people on both sides of me wanted to talk while I was out trying to get ready. This can be a recipe for disaster. Getting interrupted in the middle of some tasks can leave critical things incomplete. The only way I have to safeguard that everything gets done is start over after the conversation is complete. I wanted to leave by ten, but didn’t get on the road until 10:30.

Most of my journey south was on US 65. It had some sections that were divided highway with cross roads and other sections that were just two lane roads. Almost all of the road was a twisting, turning, up and down ordeal. It really required attention to driving. There were many sections that could benefit from some earth moving. Blasting out some ledge and using it to fill in other areas would straiten the road and reduce some of the grade. I’m not a civil engineer, so I don’t know if there are technical reasons it can’t be done, but cost savings would seem to be one reason to subject the driving public to the roller coaster approach. Today I was using the brakes more than I want even with gearing down for the down hill sections. It seemed like there were many thirty mile an hour curves near the bottom of the hills. Some of the thirty mile an hour curves ended in a school zone or at a traffic light. It really wasn’t a fun drive.

r3t2018-06-11_20-591

Site B2 at the Maumelle Army Corp of Engineers Park.

I arrived at the Maumelle Army Corp of Engineers park northwest of Little Rock around 2:30 in the afternoon. This campground is right on the banks of the Arkansas River. Getting setup was a challenge. The site slopes some from back to front so I needed to used some blocks in addition to the leveling jacks. That alone isn’t a big deal, but when added to the humidity and having to back in between two trees, it was slow going. By the time I was finished setting up I was soaked with sweat.

r3t2018-06-11_20-592

View from the front of my campsite of a barge heading up river this evening.