Improving Weather at Weeks End

Friday July 31st 2020

There has been rain, wind, clouds and sun over the last twenty four hours. During the night a strong wind blew in followed by heavy rain. This morning the sun was out for a little while before the sky darkened and more rain passed through the area. The sun returned in the afternoon for a couple of hours followed by the dark sky of a near miss storm. The TV weather talkers say the weather pattern has completed a change with that last storm’s passing. It certainly is less humid.

Afternoon Parade
Proud sentinel.

I’m not sure if it was last night’s storm or an accumulation from recent storms, but the park staff was busy picking up downed tree branches today. A smaller tractor made several trips past my site with tree branches in the bucket. Later in the day into the evening the same operator was on a riding mower catching up on all of the tall grass around the park. It was a very busy day for the park staff.

Another tug and barges heading down river.

As I predicted the park filled up this evening. This is a very popular park for people with water craft. Fishing boats and pontoon boats arrive with many of the RVs. Watching a forty plus foot motorhome pulling a pontoon boat is interesting. How do they plan to launch the boat? The diesel pusher can’t get the rear engine wet at the bottom of the boat ramp, so I can’t envision the launching task. I’ll be watching tomorrow to see if I can catch how they do it.

Blossom of the day.

Gloomy Thursday

Thursday July 30th 2020

Yesterday’s rain continued into the night time hours. Between the rain noise and the roof AC that I had to run because the rain necessitated closed windows, I didn’t get a thorough nights sleep. The day today was mostly dry, but rain is expected overnight into tomorrow. I don’t anticipate getting much better sleep tonight.

Great Blue Heron on an island in the river.

It was a cloudy and very humid day. The combination of the clouds and the shade produced by the pine forest I am park in made for a very gloomy day. I took a couple of walks around the park, but I really didn’t have the ambition for much more. I also tried to work on my travel plans without a lot of success. The gloomy day influenced my mood into a gloomy state as well. The uncertainty of travel in these virus infected times kept getting in the way of committing to a plan. I vacillate between just pushing on with normal one and two week stops versus finding a place to stay for several months. It isn’t a health and safety concern that is influencing me. The risk isn’t much different either way. It is the uncertainty of government reaction that continues to worry me. Both Tennessee and Mississippi, my next possible stops are being advised to take action against the virus. What kind of action will they take?

The activity level around the park was also low today. A few more people arrived for the weekend. I think the park will be full again. The uncertain weather kept the number of fishing boats on the river down. I only saw a couple of empty boat trailers in the parking lot on each of my walks. There are usually more and most of the time I see one or two launching or returning. I didn’t see any fishermen on the river today.

Blossoms of the day.

From Sun to Rain

Wednesday July 29th 2020

Today was all about the weather. The first half of the day was sunny and humid just like the last few days. The second half of the day was the start of a new weather pattern. A line of storms arrived with a little bit of wind, some lightening and lots of rain. This evening the clear skies are gone, but the humidity remains. More rain is forecast over the next couple of days.

This morning I went for a walk in Two Rivers Park. It is a county park about three miles down river from my RV home. When I was here two years ago I saw a lot of wildlife at Two Rivers Park. This morning I was disappointed. The water level this summer is higher than it was on my last visit. The area I saw deer and other creatures was underwater today.

Storm clouds moving in

I was not prepared to explore deeper into the park. There are some very nice bicycle trails to follow, but my bike was back at my RV home. I also didn’t bring anything to carry water comfortably. Shifting a bottle of water from hand to hand is OK for a short walk, but not very practical for a real hike. Back at camp, I started to air up my bicycle tires and put a little lubrication on the gears. I don’t remember the last time I road my bike, but it sure has a lot of miles riding around the country on the back of my SUV. The rain decided to arrive before I got very far preparing the bicycle.

Calm after the storm.

The campground has been pretty quiet the last few nights, but it is starting to fill up tonight. I get the sense that many of the campers are from the local area. There are very few RVs with out of state plates and some sites seem to be occupied by families that go home or to work during the day. It is a little different atmosphere.

Stay at Home Tuesday

Tuesday July 28th 2020

If anything, it was a little more humid today. The temperature peaked around 90, but a simple walk in the shade generated enough sweat to soak through my clothes. Rain is in the forecast for tomorrow.

Today was another do nothing kind of day. I didn’t have anything planned for the day and the weather helped push any real ambition away. I spent the day around my RV home with a couple of walks around the campground. One of the rewards of staying home was seeing the second barge since I got here last week pass by in the Arkansas river. The waterway is navigable from the Mississippi River all the way to the Tulsa Oklahoma area, but doesn’t seem to have a lot of traffic this time of year.

A Monday for the Birds

Monday July 27th 2020

The weather trend continues. The day was partly cloudy and humid with a temperature around 90 before the humidity gets added in. Tomorrow is forecast to begin a change to cooler wetter days.

With the weekend crowd gone, it has become a nice quiet place. Early in the day a few fishermen launch boats into the river. By mid day they have all returned to shore and departed. Another wave of fishermen launch boats late in the day for the evening. In between even the activity on the river is quiet. All in all, it is a relaxing atmosphere.

Other than a brief drive around the local area, I spent most of the day enjoying the quiet campground. For a while I sat on the bank of the river and watched the birds and dragon flies that are almost as big as the birds. At one point I was rewarded with a visit from a Great Blue Heron. It flew overhead and landed on the shore of a little island in the river. I really like the Great Blue Heron. It is very regal and more fun to look at than the Canadian Geese.

Great Blue Heron

Sleepy Sunday

Sunday July 26th 2020

Today was a repeat of Saturday in so many ways. The day began with cloud cover and ended partly cloudy with lots of humidity. The only real weather difference was a couple more degrees on the temperature scale.

I did pretty much the same thing as Saturday. It was a relax around the campground day. Today I watched all the weekenders pack up and leave. The neighbors across the street with four barking dogs were a welcome departure. Starting around 6:30 in the morning one of the dogs would start barking at anything passing by on the road. Not to be left out the other three joined in the noisy serenade. I don’t think the humans in the pack had a clue.

I don’t think the geese were socially distancing.

This park has a very late checkout time of 3PM. Some people took advantage of every minute of it, but most of the weekenders were gone by noon. The Canadian Geese seemed to now when the park thinned out. They seem to materialize out of nowhere to wander through the empty sites foraging for food. The most I’d seen was a group of six geese before this afternoon. There must have been twenty or more visiting geese this afternoon.

The campground is far from full tonight, but the sites along the river near me filled up again before dark. I imagine there will be a lot of empty sites until Friday when the next weekend crowd arrives. This park is a very popular weekend spot for locals.

Blossom of the day.

Laidback Saturday

Saturday July 25th 2020

Today began with full cloud cover and which gradually decreased to partly cloudy. The result was a day that warmed up slowly to reach the low 90s by mid afternoon. As usual the humidity was hanging around making it feel even warmer.

Early in the day there were a lot of fishermen on the river.

Without bright sun filtering into my RV home this morning, I was very slow getting started. It was after nine before I started working on breakfast and I was still drinking my coffee shortly before noon. Overall it was a very slow morning. The remainder of the day wasn’t much more ambitious. I took a couple of walks around the campground, but spent most of the day sitting outside watching the pleasure boats racing around in the Murray Lake part of the Arkansas River.

Am I watching him or is he watching me?

Settling in along the banks of the Arkansas River

Friday July 24th 2020

It was another day with high humidity and a high temperature around 90. If I understand the TV weather talkers correctly the humidity is normal, but the temperature is a few degrees cooler than the average. It didn’t take much outside exercise before I was dripping wet.

View looking down the Arkansas River.

I had an enjoyable day getting settled in and watching the campground fill up for the weekend. The campground is located in a nice tree shaded area along the banks of the Arkansas river. Some of the campers are here for the shade, some come for the fishing in the river and some are just here to be here. I’m in the last category. I really enjoyed this campground two years ago and looked forward to returning.

After getting the remainder of my camp setup tasks complete I took a walk along the river bank in the park. Being near the water is nice after several months in the desert. I enjoy watching the activity in the water and the animal life along the bank. In this case there is a boat launch here that the fishermen use to put in their boats. Some boats are really well outfitted for fishing and others look like they will barely float. Today’s animal life observations were restricted to a few Canadian Geese and a squirrel or two.

Blossom of the day.

Travel Day to the Little Rock Area

Thursday July 23rd 2020

Today was another travel day. This time it was about 180 miles to central Arkansas just to the west of Little Rock. My destination was Maumelle Park an Army Corp of Engineers campground on the Arkansas River behind the Murray Lock and Dam. I stayed here two years ago in June of 2017.

The checkout time at Maumelle Park is 3PM and the official check in time is 4PM, so I didn’t have to get started very early. Unfortunately, to meet the checkout time at Wednesday nights campground I had to be on the road by 11AM. I really took my time on the road stopping at three different rest areas for half an hour or more. Packing up and later setting up were a real challenge in the humidity. It only took a few minutes of work to be dripping with sweat. The high temperature this afternoon was 91 degrees, but the humidity made it feel like 101.

Tug and barge passing by south bound on the Arkansas River.

I arrived at my destination at 2:30PM. Luckily my site was available. I booked the same site I had two years ago, because I new it had a clear view of the river and an opening in the trees for the satellite dish to lock on. What I forgot was the front to back slope of the site. To get level my leveling jacks have the front wheels just about off the ground. The view is worth it. I plan to be here for two weeks.

Site B-2 at Maumelle Recreation Area.

A Visit to the Fort Smith National Historic Site

Wednesday July 22nd 2020

A heavy rain shower during the night didn’t change the overall weather pattern much. Today was cooler. It only reached the mid 80s, but the humidity was still in the oppressive range. Any exertion outside resulted in copious amounts of sweat.

One of the reasons I chose to stop in this area was to visit the Fort Smith National Historic Site. Today was the day I made the half hour drive into Fort Smith Arkansas to visit the historic site in the middle of the city. There were actually three different government facilities at the site during the nineteenth century. The outdoor exhibits were all open. The visitors center and indoor exhibits were closed due to COVID-19. I only saw a handful of visitors while I wandered the grounds.

Confluence of the Poteau and Arkansas Rivers.

The first fort was built starting in 1817 to protect the frontier. It was located high on the bank at the confluence of the Poteau and Arkansas rivers. The garrison was under manned and supplies from the east were in short supply. The fort was abandoned in 1824. The remains of the fort were discovered in the 1950s.

The second Fort Smith existed from 1838 to 1871. It also served the purpose of protecting the frontier. In this case the Arkansas river represented the edge of Indian Territory. The fort was abandoned by the US Army at the start of the Civil war and occupied by the Confederacy. Union troops took the fort back in 1863, but needed to concentrate troops and supplies to support the refuge population drawn to the protection of the fort. Many of the Union Army units composed of freed slaves were formed and trained at Fort Smith.

The Fort Smith Barracks had a second floor added for the Western District of Arkansas Court and later a jail.
A replica of the gallows used to enforce the justice handed down by the “hangin’ judge”.

The troops manning Fort Smith were transferred to forts further west in 1871. The facilities at Fort Smith became the home of the Federal Court for the Western District of Arkansas in 1872. The court was responsible for enforcing justice for Indian country and a large area of the west. For most of the courts existence at Fort Smith it was presided over by the famous “hangin’ judge” Isaac C. Parker. The gallows are a big part of the outdoor exhibits. In 1896 the facility ceased being used for the court.