Thursday, March 19, 2015

East Coast Trip March 2015 Part one, Stockton to Baltimore.

Sunday 3-8,  Total miles 525 miles.
Today was a long drive day. Got out of town at 7:30 with the time change. We have gone up and down 99 so many times we did not need to sight see. We did enjoy all the wild flowers that had been seeded by the new construction by Fresno.  Turn right on 58 out of Bakersfield and head for AZ.  

Our daughter invited us to attend her PhD  defense at Johns Hopkins. Sounded like a great reason for a road trip so off we go.

Stopped for gas at Murray Farms, gas was high at $3.79 but the store had samples of over 20 different citrus fruits. Did not know there were 3 types of blood oranges and all were a different flavor. Really liked the Yosemite Mandarins, so much we bought a bag to go.  About 50 miles west of Needles Veronica spotted 4 Mountains Goats. 

After 525 miles we got to Lake Havasu and found a steakhouse for dinner. They had a chicken out front.  

When you are staying on BLM land a steak dinner is a nice treat.  

Arizona does not do DST so we were an hour early, but it got dark earlier. Just an over night so we stayed at what you could call a BLM gravel parking lot. Over 50 rigs, but enough room you need not need to be right next someone unless you wanted to. We parked away from the big RVs in case they had a generator. So far very quite.  

Day one campsite.

The wild flowers were blooming, and let us know spring was here in the west.

 Monday 3-9,  total miles today 300

Got up and took our time today. 8:00 am we were driving to the London Bridge. Big tourist trap but had to see it as we were so close.


Construction going in and coming out. Took an hour and a half in and out. 

Headed east on Hwy 40 with a few turn offs for old route 66. Saw Seligman, Williams and Winslow. Not much in Seligman just some tourist shops and old boarded up buildings. Williams had a lot more to offer. Right old clock in Williams

Snow on the side of the road by Williams and by Flagstaff. Had lunch at the Pine Country Restaurant in Williams.

Winslow has "the corner". Interesting that just a corner could draw so many people to have their picture taken. Everyone needs stand on a corner in Winslow AZ, with luck you might see a girl my lord in a flat board Ford. 

Drove by the crater and went to Homolovi Ruins.

Decided to spend the night as it was 4:00 pm and looking at the map the only camping we could reach before dark was a KOA. an AZ state park was way better than a KOA.

Steak dinner on our grill with fresh asparagus and zucchini, baked potato. Add a glass of good red wine and it does not get much better. Who said camping was roughing it.  Our campsite at Homolovi. Warn day but cool night, 29 degrees when we got up the next day.

Big sky and views as far as the eye can see.
Have to believe they really do not want you crossing this fence.

Lots of small pottery pieces set on rocks. Nice to see people looking but not taking.

Tuesday 3-10,  total miles today 372
COLD night, got down to 29 degrees heater cycled on and off to keep 40 degrees inside. The new thermal pack worked great. Could not drain the gray water tank this morning frozen. Got up early for hot oatmeal and an early start to the day. 

Need a guide to keep track of the time.

Stopped at the Painted Desert NP and had a look around, not in CA anymore. 

Took route 66 through Gallup and looked around not as nice as Winslow and Williams. Called Bosque Bill from Wander The West as we got close to Albuquerque and he met us at a local McDonalds. Nice to put a face to a name of some one you know just from the internet. Looked at Allstays on the Iphone and decided on Santa Rosa Lake SP for the evening.  

The old way to Wander the West.

Allstays is a great app. Santa Rosa is a small town with one grocery store. Looking at the vegetables you are sure you are not in CA. They did have a nice campground. Nice campground, met some people from Vermont headed to southern NM. They are heading away from the snow in the east and we are driving to it.

Crossed the Continental Divide in NM.

Wednesday 3-11, total miles today 449.

Not a lot to see in TX going across hwy 40. We did stop and take in the Cadillac Ranch. 

I drove by it way back in 1974 heading for the Houston Astrodome and the AMA races. The display was new and still looked like cars back then, now they have so much spay paint on they I think the paint is holding them up. Warn across OK and TX well into the 70's clear sky. Driving through Oklahoma City saw a truck with a car carrier flatten a set of tires. Good save and did not hit anyone.  

We stopped for the night in a City Park just outside of McLoud OK. Well kept but all the rest room locked, they did have one port a pot set out. Only one other camper in the the park.

Thursday 3-12, total miles today 334.
The City Park was a quite night and we got up and hit the road. As we crossed into Oklahoma the landscape started to turn green and not the dry desert.  

Crossed into Arkansas at Fort Smith.

Stopped and had a great lunch in a local brewery, we were the ones with an accent.


Did the visitors center and walked the grounds. The rain started with a vengeance as we drove towards  Little Rock.  Veronica was driving and decided to stay behind a big rig, has he could see better above the spray. A newer Ford Taurus passed us and the truck. Next thing I see is the car spinning across the grass up and down a wide ditch, then into the rest area. Looked at the driver as we went by, looked like she needed a change of shorts.  Called our friend Roger Vos and said we were going to stop for the night at Conway and drive into Little Rock on Friday. He convinced us drive all the way into Little Rock. All the low land was flooded.

Road to Rogers house.

Met Roger at the Skippy Peanut Butter Plant where he is the Manager. Took a tour of the plant and headed to Roger's home for the night. Had dinner at BJ's and a great night of conversation with good friends.

Friday 3-13, total miles today 259. 

Left our friends the Vos's and headed for a Waffle House, Veronica has never been to one so today is the day. I found out Veronica likes grits and eggs.  We headed east on I-40 and the rain started to pick up and got real hard and foggy at the same time. Lots of truck traffic and POT HOLES like we do not see in CA. Hard to see when everything is full of water. Saw sighs saying traffic congestion ahead consider alternate route. Stopped for gas and decided to see some of the back country. 

Took Hwy 49 towards Mississippi to cross the river at West Helen. Drove in to the historic old town looking for a restaurant. Lots of boarded up old buildings and only a Mexican restaurant. 

Went back out and crossed over the Mississippi River and there was a large indian casino. 

Had lunch at the buffet really good southern food. May be the best sweet potato ever. Continued on back roads to Tupelo  and found a motel for the night. As the rain had not let up.

Driving through the back country of Mississippi is an eye opener. Many people living in homes that you would not see in California. 

Saturday 3-14 PI day. Total miles 296.
Slept good at the Motel and enjoyed a morning shower. Good night to make a motel stop as it poured all night. Hit the road we were only 3/4 of a mile from the Natchez Trace scenic byway. I have heard a lot about it on motorcycle forums. 

Wow what a beautiful road, like a 400 mile long park. We only covered about 70 miles of the Trace but did make a stop at the Visitors Center, lots of history. Stopped at all the over looks. Would like to do more of the trace and may on our way home. 

From Natchez Trace we turned towards Muscle Shoals. 

If you have not seen the Documentary on Muscle Shoals you must watch it. We made this stop just because  of the movie. We visited both the Muscle Shoals studio and the original Fame studio. Got a CD at Fame and met two people from Germany. 

The German couple gave us a recommendation for lunch. City Hardware was the place for lunch and it was great. Headed south for a few hours to our camp for the night.  

There was a light mist falling most of the way, some times heavy enough to need the wipers all the time. We did our last time zone as we entered Georgia. Losing a hour crossing a line sure makes the day shorter.  John Tanner State Park was our stop for the night. $30.00 to camp for the night, had to pay for elec and water we would not be using. All the other stops have been free BLM camps or no more that $14.00. Two side effects of the rain. One my wireless indoor/outdoor thermometer stopped working. Two we got water under the rear door. Note: very heavy rain for over two days of driving. To the left me working on my thermometer.

Sunday 3-15 Total miles today 85.

Did not go far today. Did the World of Coke in Atlanta and walked all over the park. Headed for my nephew's house in Covington GA. Had a great visit and went out for a Bar B Q dinner. Stayed up way past my bed time talking.

Me and my nephew, Nick Harr. 

Monday 3-16 Total miles for the day 272.
Jessica made us breakfast and Nick took half a day off  to visit. Did not get away until almost 10:30 I sure enjoyed catching up with Nick and seeing that he is dong well. We passed on Stone Mountain and headed for Asheville NC. Stopped at McDonalds for a  latte, fourth time on the trip their machine was not working. Got back too the truck an there was a local wanted to know all about my camper. I gave him some information on the FWC web site and WTW. 

Got to Biltmore to late for a tour today, could not even look at the grounds unless you purchased a full ticket $49.00 per. We thought about buying a ticket and touring the grounds today and doing the house Tuesday morning. Checked there no campgrounds by Asheville and first tour  was at 9:30 and would take 2+ hours. Decided it would be noon before we got on the road again. 

We would rather drive all of the Blue Ridge Parkway, or so we thought. We headed up the Parkway and covered about 10 miles all at 35 and 45 MPH limits. That is when we hit the road closed gate. We had stopped at the Visitors Center, closed and not notices of any road closures. Stopped and talked to a local he told us there was a web site with road closures. Looked at it and decided to head for Lake James SP for the night. We had planed on staying at the Mount Mitchell SP just off the Parkway but could not get there today. 

We drove back to Lake James and ran into the ranger. Was told us tent camping only! I asked him where I could camp with the camper for the night. I told him we ran into the closed road on the Parkway. He felt sorry for us and said we could camp in the tent area parking lot. Also there were not campers tonight anyway. Going to be a nice quite night.   

Tuesday 3-17 total miles today 321.
Did have a very quite night. Only noise was one sadistic railroad engineer who really laid on his horn.  We could hear him all the way down the long valley. We tried the Blue Ridge Parkway again. Went to the visitor's center and it was closed. Drove by the campground we thought about staying at and it was closed.

Finally got to an Art Center that was open. They told us no rangers start working until May. WTH you think they could put a sigh up at the closed visitor's center saying what was closed and what the road closures were. At the right time of the year the parkway would be unbelievably beautiful, There was miles and miles of Azaleas on the sides of the road.    

We also found out there was another road closure just a ways up. We dropped off the parkway and had lunch at a small Italian Restaurant. Headed for Hwy 81 and a meet up with Dan Nelson (100acrehuphalump) from WTW. He had just picked up his new Hawk this morning in PA. We met up at Exit 92 on I-81. Not sure there had every been two FWC's at the same gas station in VA. 

We started looking for a campground for tonight. All public campgrounds were closed! except a few private and a KOA.  I checked the (KOA $54.00)  we could stay in a Motel for very little more. There is just not any BLM land in the east coast.  I suggested Walmart and Veronica looked at the weather, big change tonight, so Motel it is. Tomorrow we go up the hill to the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park, road is open but everything else is still closed. We will be at Jenny's tomorrow night. 

Wednesday 3-18  Total miles today 218.     

Got up in a nice warm motel room. Temp outside was in the mid 20's with some clouds but no rain. Goal today was to drive Skyline Drive in the Shenandoah NP. 

Just over 100 miles with a 35 MPH limit!  This was a truly great road with great views. I have been on part of it in the summer many years ago. I remember a ton of cars and so many trees there were not many views. Today it was cold clear and very little traffic. We drove over 50 miles without seeing a car on the road. Did see a lot of deer. 

Temp stayed under 30 for most of the trip.  This time of the year everything is closed up. It may be spring in CA but it is still winter on the east coast. Without leaves on the trees there were views everywhere as long as you looked through the trees. 

As we left the north end of Skyline Drive we looked for lunch and spotted a local hamburger joint. 

May have been the best hamburger I have had, defiantly in the top 3. 

Frozen custard was good too. 

Time to head to the daughters in Baltimore. Had to drive through some traffic by DC but not bad over all. We will be here for the next week and I will pick up the blog when were are back on the road. Next stop Key West. 

Typing the blog from my daughters. 

Miles driven from the west coast..... 3,427 


Mother Nature has a sense of humor.

Next Part Two, Baltimore to Key West.

1 comment:

  1. I'll bet you need the break. Hope to meet this weekend :)