It was a beautiful weather day. The very minor blip of Ida felt in this area was over. The high temperature was around ninety with a favorable lower humidity level. It was a very comfortable day.
Today’s exercise was a hike in the Two Rivers park about 3 miles east of my campsite. The Pulaski County park has walking, biking and horseback trails in an area between the Arkansas River and the Little Maumelle River. It also hosts the county garden center with vegetable gardens hosting produce grown by area residents.
My walk was along one of the walking and horseback trails. It meanders along the side of an open field and through tree lined areas around a pond. I came upon two young deer. They still had their spots. I’m not sure if their mother was around or not, but I was careful to let them move away as they wanted while I took their pictures.
Strangely, for a midweek night, the campground has a lot of new arrivals. Most nights I haven’t had any neighbors. Tonight I have one on each side. They are very different. On one side I have a guy in a tiny blue tent. The other side is a rig at the opposite end of the spectrum. It is a big diesel pusher motorhome complete with a tag axle. Watching the motorhome back in was a little nerve racking. We share part of a common driveway.
Today began as a calm cloud covered day. As the day progressed the wind picked up out of the north and northeast. It wasn’t anything like the hurricane to the southeast. The TV weather talkers reported a gust of 25mph at the Little Rock Airport. With the breeze came a few breaks in the clouds that allowed the temperature to reach the mid eighties. The rain remained well to the east of this location. My decision to stay here was a good one.
Most of the “refuges” from the storms path that arrived in the park yesterday departed this morning. I don’t know if they were heading back to the destruction or if they were moving on to a better place to wait out the storm and recovery. The Louisiana van and pickup truck that were on the site beside me last night departed around noon. They guy that spent the night in a hammock got lucky that it didn’t rain last night.
Today’s exercise was a circuit of the campground along the park roads and the trails that interconnect the various camping loops. I only saw one vehicle from Louisiana. Most or the park residents are from Arkansas. A handful are from Tennessee and Mississippi. I saw two others from Florida, but I didn’t see any more distant states. The last couple of weeks of August through the labor day weekend seem to be a lull in travel. Summer travel is over. The kids in southern states are back in school and the northern kids start in the next couple of weeks. The fall travel season usually starts right after labor day. Maybe I’ll have less difficulty with reservations during the next couple of months.
Today’s weather was a clone of Saturday. There is still no weather from the hurricane in this area. It was a partly cloudy day with a high temperature in the low to mid eighties.
It was difficult to get a handle on the hurricane track this morning. I was not awake early enough to catch any local news broadcasts, if there were any. The network national news shows reported on the storm, but didn’t provide any forecasts. Normally I’d be monitoring the storm with the weather channel, but I don’t have satellite TV access on this campsite. The internet was my only source. It is difficult to find a current and succinct source of forecast information. I found a lot of several hour old information, before I settled on a live stream from one of the New Orleans TV stations. The bottom line, later confirmed by the local evening news, is the storm track is far enough east that this area west of Little Rock should only see occasional showers. Judging by the number of Louisiana tagged RVs that arrived in the campground this afternoon a lot of other people think this will be a safe haven.
This campground also has a large day use area and a boat launch. Both facilities get well used on the weekend. There has been a steady flow of boats getting launched. Everything from small aluminum fishing boats to fast moving fiberglass speed boats and pontoon boats get launched. Most are only out for a couple of hours before returning. Watching people put in and take out their boats can be entertaining. Some people are well practiced and put the boat in and take it out in a few minutes. Others don’t have the routine down as thoroughly. Their path down the boat ramp is slow and twisty. They often stop several times before the boat is able to float off the trailer. Taking the boat out is even more challenging for some. Getting some of the smaller boats aligned on big trailers was a challenge for several. I’m not judging, just enjoying. I would be one of the challenged should I try to launch a boat.
My campsite is near the day use area in the park. Both weekend days there have been a lot of picnics in the day use area. Families and groups of families arrived near the lunch hour and the supper hour to have cookouts and enjoy the park. I get the impression that this is a routine practice for some local residents. It is a nice place to get away from the city and enjoy the river view.
The weather pattern of a nearly cloudless sky, high humidity and temperature in the high nineties changed today. There were plenty of clouds in the sky to block the sun from time to time. The temperature and humidity were also a little lower. It peaked in the low to mid nineties instead of the upper nineties.
I was up early this morning to make sure I caught the local weather forecast. The hurricane didn’t make any dramatic moves over night and it continued to follow the expected path during the day. As long as it doesn’t do anything completely unexpected, I should be alright staying here. The current forecast for this area is up to an inch of rain with wind gusts as high as 25mph. As always I’ll continue to monitor the situation.
Another reason for getting up early was to make another reservation for next March in one of the federal controlled parks in Florida. The reservation window for federal controlled parks like the Army Crop of Engineers parks is six months. I was unsuccessful at my first attempt, but was able to get my second choice. As of now I have reservations from October 22nd to March 14th in Florida. March 14th to April 2nd remain open. On September 14th I’ll try to fill in the next fourteen days.
Another of today’s task was refilling the refrigerator and pantry. It has been more than two weeks since my last grocery run. When I go that long, I usually make a shopping list to make sure I get the more obscure items I’ve consumed. Today I forgot to bring the list to the store, but only managed to miss one of the items on the list. The act of creating the list is more important that actually using it.
The Walmart in this area has been updated. Earlier in the year Walmart announced they were upgrading their stores to align with the online shopping experience and the Walmart App. It sounds like nonsense to me. There is new signage over each aisle and some things may have been moved around. The change I have the biggest issue with is the checkouts. At this Walmart there were only a small handful of checkouts that had people assigned. The majority of the checkouts were self service. To rub in the change in the level of service the signs have been changed. Instead of calling them self service checkouts the sign calls the do it yourself registers “checkouts”. The old staffed registers are know called “Assisted Checkouts”. It seems they want you to believe that you are incapable if you want the service that is built into the cost of the items your buying. Why should I give them my labor and my money? It isn’t any faster or more convenient. Once they get to point where taking an item off the shelf and putting it into my cart rings up the sale, I’ll consider it progress.
I got a late start to the day. The shaded location of my campsite doesn’t allow enough sun in to brighten the inside of my RV home. Combined with the quiet of the location, it was after 10AM before I was up and moving. I found a bright sunny day that eventually peaked in the upper nineties once I opened all the blinds in my RV home.
My main concern today was getting a handle on approaching tropical system Ida. It is moving fast enough that I’d have to move tomorrow (Saturday) if this area is in the cross hairs. The projected track remains pretty stable east of here. That puts the Little Rock area on the drier side of the storm. The local TV weather talkers are talking about scattered thunderstorms resulting in about an inch or rain for Little Rock and points west. Near the Mississippi River, where I was earlier in the week, six to eight inches of rain are possible. As of now, I’m sticking it out here while I continue to monitor the forecast. Running west toward Oklahoma is still a possibility.
While I’ve managed to escape the brunt of all of the tropical systems that I’ve encountered on my Rambling Road Trip, my record is about fifty-fifty on making the best decisions. In 2016, I didn’t run from Hurricane Hermine. I was in Jacksonville FL when the hurricane came ashore in the Florida Big Bend area. The wind and rain in the Jacksonville area made for some tense hours, but no real danger. Later that year I correctly and successfully ran from Hurricane Matthew.
I was in the west during the 2017 and 2019 hurricane seasons. In 2018 I was in the northeast until after the official hurricane season ended, but had a couple of storms come up the coast that needed a little attention. Last year (2020) there were two near misses that I could have made better decisions. I was close enough on the east side of Hurricane Sally to get flooded out of the campground I was staying in. The campground staff moved everyone in the campground to another campground after several campsites were under several inches of water. The site I was on would have been fine.
In November of 2020 I was in the Florida Keys when Hurricane Eta approached Florida. I left Curry Hammock State Park a day early to avoid the storm, but probably should have departed even earlier. After two days of traveling north in the outer bands of the tropical system I stopped in Titusville Florida on the assumption that I was safe. Two days later the storm had looped around and was heading straight for me. It slipped north and weakened before having more impact on me.
This year I’ve already run from one tropical system. At the beginning of July I departed a day early to run west away from Hurricane Elsa. That proved to be the right solution. The area I departed got several inches of rain. I did not feel the impact of Elsa in Louisiana, but got plenty of rain from other sources. Escaping from the storm to the west changed my entire summer travel approach. Now I have Ida to deal with.
The temperature reached the mid to upper nineties, but the location of my site made a big difference. Ever since I left Louisiana over a month ago, my campsites have been in the open without any shade. Here along the Arkansas River at Maumelle Army Corp of Engineers park I am parked in the shade. The direct sunlight doesn’t reach my RV. It is dark later in the morning and earlier at night. The end result is it is naturally cooler. This level of heat in the direct sunlight results in the AC running continuously from 9AM to 9PM. Here in the shade it gets to cycle on and off.
The shade is the good part of my campsite. The same trees that provide the shade prevent my satellite TV dish from getting a signal. I’m forced to watch one of the 51 over the air channels I receive on the regular antenna for entertainment. It is actually the first time in weeks that I’ve had access to all four of the major TV networks.
The other downside to my campsite is a little more concerning. It looks like this site fills up with water from the hill behind it in heavy rain. Since it hasn’t rained significantly since I got here, I don’t know the level of concern. It could be an inch or several inches based on the accumulated mud I’ve observed in some areas. This is important considering the weather forecast. Tropical storm Ida is heading this way. The current track isn’t a major concern, but if it moves to the west, several inches of rain may fall in this area. I’m paying close attention to the developing forecast and will take action as necessary. Moving to another site after the weekend is a possibility as is escaping the area all together.
In addition to finishing setting up my campsite I checked out the changes to the park since last summer. Not much has changed. The only significant thing I observed was the height of the river. The water level is a little higher than last year. Since the level is controlled by the Murray Lock and Dam a little way down river, it is probably by design.
Today was a hot travel day. The temperature was in the high nineties with plenty of accompanying humidity. It seemed to get a little warmer as I traveled west into the center of Arkansas.
I got a later start on the road than I had planned. Annoying little things like a leak in my sewer hose delayed my departure. Luckily I always test the hose with the gray water before dumping the black tank. After watching a fountain of gray water coming out of the hose, I swapped out the bad hose for another one before continuing with the dumping process. There was very little gray water spillage to clean up.
The travel came in two parts. The first part, going north to Memphis, was easy. Traffic was very light. The second part of the travel was on Interstate 40 crossing Arkansas. Traffic was very heavy. Most of vehicles were big trucks and the road was only two lanes wide. I settled in behind a truck that was traveling at a comfortable speed and stuck it out for 115 miles or so. Other trucks passed in the left lane in a continuous line. One construction zone slowed everything down even more. On top of everything else the road wasn’t the best. My RV home bounced around violently a few times.
The next issue on the trip was my recollection of how to find the campground. I’ve been to the Maumelle Corp of Engineers campground twice before, but each time I arrived from the west. This time I was approaching from the east and the campground is on the west side of Little Rock Arkansas. I managed to turn south on the wrong interstate (I-30) and found myself heading for downtown Little Rock. My solution was to take an exit and reverse direction back to Interstate 40. The next time I turned south on Interstate 430 I was on the right road, but my troubles weren’t over yet.
The bridge over the Arkansas River was under construction and so was the first intersection south of the river. A cloud burst of rain decided to start at about this time too. The signs for the exit were either a casualty of the construction or I missed them in the rain. Either way, I realized that it was the exit I wanted as I passed by. Another U-turn was called for at the next intersection. Both of my direction issues would have been solved if I had reviewed my route before starting my trip. Just because I’ve been somewhere twice doesn’t mean I remember all the route numbers or road names.
I arrived at the campground a little before 3PM. It took a while to get setup in the heat after passing the first hurdle of dealing with the welcoming committee. To get into my site I had to wait while the local population of Canada Geese got out of the way. They wouldn’t be hurried.
I plan to be here until the second of September. The only possible wrinkle is the tropical system that seems to be forming in the Caribbean. One path for the storm takes it into the Gulf of Mexico toward the Houston TX area. That track would send a lot of rain this way. I need to keep track of the development.
The hot weather continues. The temperature peaked in the mid nineties with a heat index close to 110. It was not an outside kind of day. I spent most of the day reading, watching TV and searching for various things on the Internet.
I don’t have much to write about tonight. Today was my last day in the Tunica Resort area. I’m moving west to the Little Rock, AR area tomorrow.
The high temperature is back along with Excessive Heat warnings. Along with the high humidity the temperature peaked in the low nineties with very little wind. The construction activity across the road seemed to be suspended during the warmest part of the day. The noise started around 7AM and stopped around 11AM. Around 5:30 it the noise and activity at the construction site resumed for another two plus hours. Sunset seems to be the only thing that stopped the work.
The most of the remainder of the weekend visitors to the RV park and resort departed today. Shortly after checkout time there were only four or five RVs left in the RV park. When I walked up around the hotel and casino, there were less than twenty cars in the parking lot near the hotel rooms. There were a few more cars in the lot nearest the casino. The numbers in both sections of the resort improved a little this evening.
Today, I got serious about travel planning. I needed to develop a plan for when I leave here on Wednesday and for the Labor Day weekend that is rapidly approaching. Ideally, I’d like to be in Tennessee near something to do. That “something to do” thing is the catch. Any place that addresses that criteria is full both of the up coming weekends. I identified an Army Corp of Engineers campground not far from here that has openings on the holiday weekend. It isn’t in my target area and it seems to be very isolated. Reviews report that it doesn’t have Verizon cell service and it doesn’t have Over the Air TV reception. Even so, it makes a good destination of last resort.
Thinking about Corp of Engineer parks turned my thinking out of the box. I decided to go west to the Little Rock AR area. I’ve stayed at a Corp of Engineer park on the Arkansas river a couple of times before and really enjoyed my stay. I was able to book a site for eight nights. This still leaves the labor day weekend as a problem, but I should be able to find a site in this area. My desire is to return to the Mississippi River at Tom Sawyer RV park, but they haven’t answered their phone yet. The bottom line is instead of traveling east, I’m going further west for a week.
The heat is back and the chance of heat relieving rain is down. The overnight temperature was in the upper seventies and today’s high was in the low nineties. I’ve been running the air conditioner to keep the inside comfortable.
With the AC on and the windows closed the noise from the outside world doesn’t filter into my RV home. It was after 9AM before I woke this morning. The trend for the day was set. It was a low energy, low ambition kind of day. I spent the majority of the day inside reading and watching TV. The only real interruption from the pattern was to prepare and eat food. My morning coffee was a two cup affair rather than the usual one and my main meal was a little more elaborate than normal. I grilled a thick pork chop for dinner and baked a package of brownies for desert.
The RV park has reverted from weekend mode to mid week mode. Most of the group of six RVs that were here for the weekend have departed. Two are still here keeping the party going for at least one more night. Late in the day more RVs arrived to fill in some of the empty sites. Most of the new arrivals didn’t unhook there tow vehicles or towed cars so they are probably here for one night.