End of July

Saturday July 31st 2021

It wasn’t as humid today and there was a little less haze in the sky today. The other positive weather trend was a stronger breeze. Even in the direct sunshine the breeze was refreshing. The Excessive Heat Warning continued today, but each day it has felt less significant. Tomorrow is only forecast to be in the eighties.

I am not getting as much exercise because of the heat. An evening walk around the RV park and the resort parking lots is all I’m getting. When combined with inconsistent sleep, I’m very lethargic. The cycling of the air conditioner at night wakes me up. If I set the thermostat high so it won’t be on it gets to warm. If I set the thermostat low so the AC will stay on it just gets to cold. My ideal solution is run the AC during the day up to bed time then turn it off and open the windows. That only works if the outside temperature gets down into the seventies overnight. It has been in the eighties overnight here.

Inside my RV home I have a new form of exercise. I’ve been drinking a lot of ice water the last couple of months. Just about every time I fill the tumbler with ice from the freezer one or two cubes get away. They bounce around and slide all across the floor. Sometimes it easy to find the cubes, but every now and then I’m on by hands and knees looking in all kinds of places. If I don’t find the cube right away, the little puddle it produces as it melts finds my stocking or bare feet.

On this evenings walk around the resort, I stopped in at the casino. The mask rules are last weeks. This area has high instances of COVID, but still allow vaccinated people to go mask less. I wore a mask, but there probably weren’t enough people in the place to represent much of a contagion. As I mentioned yesterday, I don’t know were everybody is. They certainly aren’t in this casino. I wasn’t in a gambling mood. I lost $20 in less than ten minutes.

It is hard to believe that tomorrow is the first of August. I started the month in the Florida panhandle followed by a couple of weeks in Louisiana. Neither location was particularly hot but both were very wet. As I started north to find cooler drier areas, I found a hotter zone at less desirable campgrounds and initially the rain continued. I’m gradually moving to areas with more tree cover and higher elevation.

Where is Everyone?

Friday July 30th 2021

The Excessive Heat Warning continued today, but is really more of a reminder that it is hot. You shouldn’t be working outside in the sun or doing other forms of exercise, but you could sit in the shade for awhile with a cold drink. The key was short and limited exposure. This is the hottest it is expected to get in this area this summer. The heat bubble breaks on Sunday. It is only forecast to be in the eighties.

This area is about thirty miles south of Memphis TN. It is currently home to six casino resorts with lots of hotel rooms, and gambling opportunities. Around the turn of the millennium there were eleven casinos. The area was the third largest gaming area in the country after Las Vegas, and Atlantic City. People used to come to this area from all around the country. The development of local and Indian casinos across the country cut into the business. The great recursion in 2008 and 2009 had an impact on business as well. In 2011 the Mississippi River flooded and damaged many of the resorts infrastructure.

Looking around today, I ask the question “Where is everybody?” The hotel at Sams Town doesn’t look like it is even ten percent full. The number of cars in the parking lot is tiny. I expected things to get busy as the weekend and night approached. There are only about six new residents in the campground and the casino parking lot continues to largely empty. The Hollywood Casino across the street doesn’t look much better, again judging by the number of cars in the parking lot.

Casinos I’ve visited across the country all had more cars in the parking lot during the day, evening and on weekends. My guess is if you combine the people at all of the six casinos in this area you will exceed the number at each of the local casinos around the country. It just will not be by much. I fail to see how all six casinos are economically viable.

Excessive Heat Warning

Thursday July 29th 2021

Today was the second or third day this area has been under an excessive heat warning. The combination of temperature and humidity is forecast over 110 degrees Fahrenheit. I think this specific area got off a little easier today than yesterday. The sun was blocked by some haze. The actual temperature didn’t get over the mid nineties and the heat index was only a little over 100 degrees. Tomorrow is also expected to be under an excessive heat warning.

I spent most of the day in the air conditioned comfort inside my RV home. It was a very slow day. I dozed off a couple of times for a few minutes each time. The TV was on all day, but I couldn’t tell you what was on. I did a lot of internet travel research and reading.

Blossom on one of the few decorative trees in the RV park.

This campground is almost empty. Three or four RVs that were here for the night left this morning. I think a couple of new guests arrived late this afternoon. A quick count comes up under ten RVs in the approximately 60 sites. Other than a few decorative trees near the restrooms and entrance road, it is a wide open field with cement pads for RVs. There is not much to draw someone here. Even the casino and hotel seem to be in need of customers. I haven’t been over to the casino. I’m judging by the parking lot which has very few cars during the day. At night it may be busier. Tomorrow night I might walk over and check.

Travel Day to Tunica Mississippi

Wednesday July 28th 2021

It took longer to get ready to travel than planned this morning. I was on the road at 10:30 about a half an hour later than planned. I’m going to blame the heat. It makes a good excuse since the area is under an excessive heat warning. The heat index was around 106 with an actual temperature in the upper nineties.

I chose a route that follows US 61 north along the western side of Mississippi. The interstate is further east and would be longer in miles and time. The road was a divided highway north of Vicksburg and again south of Tunica. In between it was a wide enough two lane road. Unfortunately the road surface was very rough and it had a few interesting dips. The inside contents of my RV home were well displaced when I arrived at my destination. I don’t remember the last time it was this bad, if ever.

My RV home waiting in the empty parking lot while I marched across the parking lot to the hotel lobby to check in.

The road passed through farm land. Most of the time one side of the road was planted with corn and the other side had a plant that I think was soybean. Corn is easy to identify, but the low green bushy plants could be many things. Occasionally along the way the road passed through or around towns. If the road were smother, I’d have really enjoyed the trip.

Site 102 at the Sams Town RV Park in Robinsonville MS.

I arrived at Sams Town Casino around 2:15PM. It is necessary to check in at the Hotel registration desk. The RV Park is out in an open field at the south end of the extensive parking lots. I was here in 2018 so I knew what I was getting into. I’ll be here until Monday while I work on my next destination.

A Stormy Day in Vicksburg

Tuesday July 27th 2021

Not long after I finished writing yesterday’s blog entry, rain has been a prominent factor in my life. At bed time a noisy, flashy and rainy storm arrived. The lightening produced a very dramatic show with the accompanying thunder and heavy rain on the roof. Getting to sleep was delayed by about an hour, but the show was entertaining.

Transition in the sky from rainy to the right and sunny to the left.

Most of the day today a hazy sun has hovered overhead. The temperature climbed into the mid nineties. Every couple of hours a dark cloud would appear in the sky and drop heavy but very isolated rain. It could be raining in one location while across the street it was dry and sunny. At the supper hour tonight another whopper of a thunderstorm came through. Based on my weather radar app, it most have formed right overhead. It brought more thunder, lightening, rain and a new ingredient, hail. The hail was small and only lasted a couple of minutes. The storm lasted about an hour.

There was a steady stream of water through my site during the thunderstorms.

The inconsistent weather kept me from driving the Vicksburg battlefield tour road. I’ve learned a lot about the battle and the conditions in 1863 from the other things I’ve done while here. The idea of touring the monuments and displays on the battlefield isn’t as important to me as the overall history of the area. Maybe some day I’ll be back in the area to drive the tour road, but I won’t feel deprived if I don’t.

After the strom.

The other thing on today’s agenda was a trip to Walmart for some groceries. I’m moving on tomorrow to Tunica Mississippi. I’ll be there trough the weekend. There isn’t much in that area other than a few active Casinos and a couple of abandoned ones. I stayed in the area in 2018. This time around I needed a place for a few days while I figure out my next few weeks of travel.

After the big afternoon storm, I got the bicycle loaded on the car and some of the other complicated outside travel preparation tasks complete. In the morning I’ll finish the inside tasks and finish the outside prep. My plan is to get on the road by ten.

Watching the River

Monday July 26th 2021

Just like yesterday, the temperature reached the high nineties today. The difference was a higher chance of rain. It clouded over several times and dropped a minute or two of rain a couple of times. Some areas in the region may have received a real downpour.

I had to really think hard to know what day of the week it was and the time of day. The TV reception here doesn’t include any of the major networks. I’m mostly watching the channels provided by my satellite dish. There is no pattern to keep me organized. Watching obscure Olympic sports at 8AM doesn’t tell me much about the day of the week or the time. I’m used to morning news until 9AM and other standard programming throughout the day to keep me moving. Today it was well after noon when I looked at the clock and got the active part of my day started.

It was too late to head for the battlefield tour and one of the big black clouds was in that direction. Taking the tour in a downpour wasn’t very attractive either. Instead I went over to the Mississippi River and watched the boat traffic on the river for a little while. The easiest way to get to the river is to visit one of the casinos. All of the casinos in Mississippi are riverboats or some other pretense to a boat. There are at least four casinos in Vicksburg. Sitting in the casino parking lot with the car AC running at full blast, I watched the river long enough to see one tow heading up river. The river was really living up to its Big Muddy nickname.

When I got back to the campground later in the afternoon the park had started to fill up again. Last night it was as full as I’ve seen it since I got here last week. Tonight it doesn’t seem to be near as full, but it does confirm this is a travelers park.

A Short Visit to the Vicksburg National Military Park

Sunday July 25th 2021

After leisurely enjoying breakfast and catching up on my reading, I ventured out to the Vicksburg Military Park. My goal was to tour the visitors center and drive the tour route. I was partially successful. There was a backup of cars at the start of the one way tour road, which made it look too busy. I’ll try again on a weekday.

I did tour the visitors center. The movie shown in the theater is the same as the one on the web site, so I didn’t watch it again. The exhibits were interesting, but didn’t add a lot of information. When I drive the tour route, I’ll take my time and read all of the information placards to get a better sense of the history. I enjoy Civil War history, but find it difficult to get excited about monuments memorializing the state military units that participated in the campaign. Getting an understanding of the tactics both successful and not is more interesting to me.

Back at the campground late in the afternoon the park began to fill up again. I’m now convinced this is a campground for travelers. Initially I thought most people were coming to visit the historic elements in the area like I did. That requires more than a single nights stay which is what most of the non long term RVs seem to remain at the campground. Besides the National Military Park the only other draw seems to be the four or five casinos along the river.

Touring the Vicksburg Area

Saturday July 24th 2021

There wasn’t a cloud in the sky most of the day. The temperature climbed to the mid 90s with enough humidity to make it seem like 100 plus temperatures. Late in the day a haze moved into the area blocking some of the sun. I don’t know if the haze is associated with forest fires out west, or something closer. It made the sunset very interesting.

Today I explored the Vicksburg area. The town is located on the banks of the Mississippi River on high ground. It is very easy to see why the location played such a major role in the Civil War. Artillery on the high ground in and around Vicksburg could easily control traffic on the river. If you didn’t understand that before visiting the city, all of the old cannon around town aimed at the river would give you a clue.

Looking southwest at the Mississippi River

I stopped at the Mississippi visitors center just over the Interstate 20 bridge from Louisiana to get the lay of the area. The view of the bridges and river is impressive. From there, I drove into the historic old downtown area. I’m not sure how many of the buildings were around in the 1860s, but the many small brick buildings provided a throw back to another era. I avoided going to the National Battlefield park today. Now that I know were to find it, I’ll go on a less busy day than a Saturday.

Decorative cannon aimed at the Mississippi River at the Mississippi visitors center between the Interstate 20 bridge and the old railroad bridge on the right.

I found navigating the roads in the area difficult. Except on the interstate the road signs are poor to nonexistent. Nothing tells you which way to go at major intersections. If your lucky you can see a route marker in the distance on the intersecting road. Even the on ramp to the interstate only had a small route marker with an arrow right at the turn. I never had to turn around, but I did take a few roads that I hadn’t planned on following.

Sunset through the haze

A Slow Post Travel Day

Friday July 23rd 2021

Today was a lazy restful day. Yesterday’s move was a very tiring event. I went to bed early last night and slept through the night even with the AC cycling on the roof above my bed. Today’s temperature was in the low nineties with average humidity for the region. Unlike most of the cloudy, might rain any minute, days in Louisiana I needed to keep the AC on all day. While that keeps it comfortable inside, as soon as you step outside the heat really slaps you in the face.

Looking up the hill toward my RV home at the Rivertown Rose Campground.

Since I’ll be here for another four full days it wasn’t necessary that I start my touring today. The surprise of the head and my overall lack of energy kept me at home today. I finished the setup tasks and walked around the RV park. While it isn’t very photogenic, this is a nice campground. There are a little over one hundred sites in an open area on the west side of a gentle hill. The sites around the outside are back-ins occupied by long term residents. The sites along parallel cross roads are all pull through and are mostly for more transient visitors. All of the sites seem to have some slope, but not enough to prevent leveling your RV. My front wheels are off the ground an inch or two, but that isn’t unusual.

Looking west toward the road.

Yesterday the campground was pretty full when I arrived. Not to many RVs arrived later in the day. This morning many RVs departed and the park didn’t start to fill up until much later in the day. Judging by the license plates, most of the new arrivals are travelers. I’m not sure if they are here to visit the Vicksburg battlefield or are just passing through the area on Interstate 20.

Travel Day to Vicksburg MS

Thursday July 22nd 2021

I was up early, because it was a travel day. Breaking the pattern of many of the last few travel days, it was a nice clear day. The bright sunshine and the humidity made getting ready to travel a sweaty job. My plan was to get on the road around ten. I pulled out of the Fontainebleau State Park about 10:40AM. Most of the delay was at the dumping station. Its location and access isn’t the best.

Once I got on the road, the first order of business was filling the gas tank. Gas prices in Louisiana are thirty cents or more below the Florida prices at my last filling. Finding an accessible station wasn’t as easy. I finally settled on a station with slightly higher prices than was empty enough that I could get in and maneuver. I almost blocked the exit while I filled the tank.

The next issue was figuring out how to get to my destination in Vicksburg Mississippi. I hadn’t done my usual level of route planning. The interstate routes were easy, but following them all the way would add fifty miles or more to the days journey. My solution was to use my nemesis the GPS. It routed me on mostly US routes that turned out to be good roads. I need to look at a paper map to see where the GPS took me. The only issue was the turn into the campground. It wanted me to go another three hundred feet before turning right. One little U-turn and I was at my destination.

Site 107 at the River Town Rose Campground.

I’ll be at the Rivertown Rose Campground in Vicksburg MS for the next few days. My plan is to tour the historic Civil War Battlefield.