Eastward bound-Texas to Indiana-Part 2-On the way to the DRV factory
On a DRV page on Facebook I’d asked about places to stop along the I 40 and a gentleman had suggested Palo Duro State Park, 30 miles South of Amarillo. Reviewers warned about horrible downgrades and narrow roads but after Baja, not much fazes you driving!…and that view from above!
Who would have thought this could appear after hundreds of miles of flat grassy plains. The history here isn’t pretty so we won’t go into that but the views are spectacular and canyon is brimming with life. The small creek that runs through the canyon is no Colorado but it does provide a haven for wildlife.
We arrived on a Saturday and I was glad I had made reservations beforehand, the line up was long to get in and the drive down to the canyon floor, although steep was very do-able, just needed to respect those coming and going on the sharp turns. Our reservation was for the Hackberry loop in a wonderful pull through with a view of the red and yellow cliffs. it was hot, 95°, I was not expecting that so we were happy for the 30 amp service and water as well.
The only downside, no cell signal at the bottom of the canyon, but a drive up to the rim and that view was a worthwhile trip once a day to check the email and see to our next stopping spot. We counted on staying a few days and the temperatures were looking to moderate so the next few days we rested! The cats loved the heat. Groot could look out the windows at the birds and stalk the pocket gophers out in the grassy areas…kitty heaven;)
The first morning we awoke to cackling and gobbling well before sunrise and Groot was staring out the window very wide eyed…birds! HUGE birds;) a flock of wild turkeys was making the rounds in the campground and had settled behind the trailer where they had tipped my bird feeder just enough to scarf some seed out…talk about a happy cat:) The best Kitty TV ever!
When the sun hit, it was a magnificent scene. I had no idea of the amazing colours and iridescence these feathers had. They strutted and preened, puffing up for the ladies, there was one obvious head honcho male the younger ones followed around. A pair of Golden Fronted Woodpeckers also inhabited the wood here. I followed them, OK, stalked them from tree to tree but damn, branches, the photographers nightmare, these guys were not co-operating! I finally resorted to bribery and perched one of my sister in law’s organic blood oranges on a branch to lure them in;)
We walked up to the general store/restaurant at the first campground area early one morning before it heated up as they had a bird blind I wanted to sit in for awhile. Tried, the wind was wafting from the restaurant and a horrible smell of old oil was permeating the area, had to leave after 10 minutes was beginning to feel ill, poor birds, didn’t fancy eating anything there after that smell either:(
There was plenty of bird life in the trees around the trailer. A pair of Cardinals were wooing each other, Mockingbirds stopped by, as well as a beautiful Brown Thrasher, a first for me, and Black Crested Titmice, I guess that would be the plural of titmouse:)
Our last day there the temperatures dropped to the 70’s and we went off for a hike. At the end of the road to the canyon we noticed an interesting looking cave so we hiked up to explore. A bit of a scramble but a nice view over the canyon below. Along the creek small bushes were blooming and one amazing yellow flowered bush in the campground area we could smell from 100 feet away!
I was sad to leave and would make a point of coming back here again if we were driving by. A big thanks to the gentleman on the facebook DRV forum for suggesting this place. It is amazing how much information can be passed about. I’ve asked so many questions on this amazing group of DRV owners and had so much positive response and helpful suggestions on how to fix, jury rig and repair things. We took all the hubcaps off the trailer here, after finding an oil leak on one of the rims. After posting pictures we had all kinds of suggestions on how to deal with the leaking oil wheel bearing. A wealth of information and kind people here, right down to sending me the part number we need to replace the cap on the leaking one! Something new to learn every day! Thank you DRV Suites Owners group! It is a lot of work maintaining a page and I know how much owners appreciate it!
Eastward again, the cooler temperatures looked like they might start to turn downright cold! We spent a night in Oklahoma City after wandering around a small state park that made no sense at all. Arcadia Lake…it was nonsensical the system they had to see if there were any open spots and the camp hosts lay hidden in their trailers, not a soul to be seen. After parking in one spot and wandering back to entrance with the help of another camper, who admitted to having been completely confused as well when he arrived, then being driven back to where we were stopped by a slightly wackadoodle older gentleman who talked non stop and was really not making any sense at all…0_0…and motioned to the other side of the campground saying we should try there. We barely made our way in and out of due to the tiny roads and dips, sorry jacks, a bit of a scrape there, we ended up leaving and listening to the roar of the interstate at a roadside RV-Park on the East side of town. It certainly makes you appreciate those camp hosts that do their job well, and parks that see to it, and follow up. Maybe I should just give up on these County parks…sigh, you do occasionally find a gem there.
We left early leaving the 40 behind for the I 44-Oklahoma is a long long state, we were aiming for Carthage, MO and a small RV park just off the highway. I hate travelling on those grey days. It makes for the blah’s and it is not the most scenic drive. I’m not a fan of the interstates except for speed. Endless chain hotels and eateries. Assimilation…we have become the Borg on these roadways haven’t we;)
Ballards RV Park fit the bill. A Good Sam Park, just off the highway but over the ridge so very little traffic noise, beautiful old trees and grass next to an old graveyard. Pulled in, no one home, so we followed the easy to understand (YES!) instructions and found a spot for ourselves. I checked into the office later and spoke to a lovely older lady, the owner now, husband died a few years back she said and was thinking of retiring herself. She had a wonderful assortment of handmade wind chimes out on the porch and I had a visit with her two cats. Now, I’m not a big gun fan and I still get somewhat uncomfortable at the sight of large handgun sitting, on the table, out in the open…I guess I need to get used to this…America.
Groot loved it, lot’s of places to walk here, a small pond and laundry! Yup, every week we need the laundry stop:)
We spent two nights and headed out into Missouri, towards Meramec State Park. I’d made reservations this time so knew we had a spot, no more wandering around Regional County Parks for now;) Now, I should have kept reading about not listening to your GPS as it took us, not to the park after leaving the interstate but to a small subdivision on the river North of the park through a series of back roads where one might have heard banjos playing in the distance, OK, just my imagination but this was a nightmare. Our first clue should have been a camper that was heading out, but that was normal this time of day to check out, but no, they like us had followed their GPS into this area.
The two lane narrow road turned eventually into a small dirt road before we found a place to get headed back towards the park. After bushwhacking a bit on a road that looked like it belonged in a field we got turned back into the right direction but not before suffering some scratches down the side of the trailer and a bad jolt to our nerves…time to buy a buffer and some cut polish by the looks of it! I was heartbroken to see all those scratches, fingers crossed I can get most of them out! With a sigh of relief we found the park entrance this time. The lady at the front desk just shrugged her shoulders and said, yeah, that happens a lot…0_0…how about a sign folks that says park entrance two miles ahead…straight! Would be nice, she didn’t seem to care. It turned into another one of those regional type parks…poor directions, and a slack jawed camp host didn’t do much to raise our spirits but we did find our spot and managed to get backed into it, sat down, time for a tequila after looking at all the scratches on our beautiful Myrtle! We were happy to be stopped. It looked like we were in for some bad weather, we got the slide out as far as we dared, just enough to squeeze by and get to the bed and open the bathroom door and we settled in for the weekend.
These slides, both the bedroom side and vanity side in the very front had become our Achilles heal. The big hydraulic slides have worked like a charm but the other two, which we read could be an issue with the 2012’s have given us grief from the start. Schwintec we hate you;) at least when I am huffing and puffing helping to get that slide in! It took calls to 6 different mobile RV repair guys in San Diego, as well as the normal RV service centers (well, we may have an opening in a month or so..0_0..) to find one who would even come out and look at them. He fiddled with the vanity slide, actually made it worse, shrugged his shoulders and left, didn’t even want to touch the big bedroom slide. We’ve poured over the manuals, tried to adjust them, hook and unhook the motors to no avail..thus our current voyage to the DRV Factory in Howe, Indiana. When we left San Diego it took three of us helping the motors to push the big bedroom slide in, thank you strangers for stopping to help! Since then we have only been opening it a foot to 15″ to squeeze by as help is not often about! I think I may be getting as a result of that, or my abs are working harder;)
We were a bit worried with the incoming cold front and rain that we would have some leaks but no, it was fine, a bit cooler than usual with the slides not sealing but no water inside, pretty amazing! It was a gloomy few days with just one afternoon of sunshine that we got out and hiked about. Groot had the run of the grassy areas and had his first drinking fountain experiment;) he was sprayed:) and his first wildflower lawn shoot! I think he’s a natural, we won’t let it go to his head;)
We took a hike up to a small cave, the larger one the park is known for was still closed for the season, but the small one gave you an idea of the limestone formations. The forest floor was covered in Spring flowers and the tree trunks were covered in moss and bracket fungus. The smell of decay and old leaves was actually quite wonderful. The variation of flowers was wonderful. I’ll have to start to look them all up, other than a berry bush it was all new to me.
The river was a dirty brown from the rain and run off. The cloudy drizzling days let me break out the tripod and ND8 filter and do some long exposures of the water flowing by. A few snapping turtles lazed on the stumps and old fallen trunks and an occasional fish jumped. We caught sight of several deer grazing on the campground lawn one afternoon. We had a few heavy showers and were pleased nothing was leaking in through the halfway open slide.
The gloom was starting to weigh on us as we calculated how many more days we had until our appointment at the DRV factory in Howe. Mike contacted the service manager, Ed and he said it would be fine to show up Saturday for our Monday morning appointment. Made our day! They have 8 full hook-up sights at the repair facility. So we decided to continue our push Eastwards. We decided one more stop near Terre Haute, Indiana and then the final jump to Howe would not be too far. There wasn’t much to choose from but we read some reviews for a RV Park near Cloverdale that had full hook ups and laundry, yup, that time again, so we decided to stop for a few nights.
To the North of the RV park is a small town called Greencastle. I needed to make some copies so we struggled to find a place, no print centers or UPS or Fedex stores anywhere to be seen, but a trip to the local Public Library netted me a copy machine I could use with my USB stick and a friendly staff. It was a cool looking old town full of interesting old houses in both good and bad repair and a large grocery store, and even a local Hamburger/Ice Cream joint. Treated Mike to a Birthday lunch there, not four star but the root beer float was delicious! Some of the oddities in the grocery store deli counter left me scratching my head…Candied apple salad?
While we were doing our grocery shopping the young lady at the deli mentioned we were under a Tornado watch…0_0…time to head back to trailer we thought! The skies were certainly dark and threatening to the SW. Back at the RV park, which was an über Christian one we saw as we pulled in….(hope he didn’t catch our alien fish on the trailer on the way by…0_0) I decided to take a hike about. The owner was chatting with our neighbor and mentioned there was an old graveyard if I followed the corn field up the hill, dating back to the 1800’s. Sounded interesting, “except” he said” you do have your sidearm?”…OK, so for a secound I thought he was joking…”is it hunting season” I asked? as if that would be a smart idea to walk about in the bush if it were…NOT…no, he was dead serious, started to talk to me about the coyotes, soon they’d be dragging off the neighbors kids and somehow the topic the got onto Armageddon and the coming of a giant godlike asteroid…I was backing up as quickly as I could and heading for that walk, I’ll take the killer coyotes any day!
The walk up through the cornfields was lovely, startled some deer in the bush and a few ducks on a small pond. At the top of the hill an old cast iron fence surrounded part of the graveyards. Harrah’s it said. Some very old and unreadable graves, some new stones had replaced the old unreadable ones, someone tends this lonely hilltop view.
We made it through the night, Mike had one more birthday and swore he saw a funnel cloud forming to the West of us out of the trailer window, I think I have to agree with him, there was some nasty swirling stuff going on! Time for a glass of wine and bed, kittens tucked under the covers;) Tornado prepared-each grab a cat and go!
We survived, were not stuck down by any evil weather Gods and lived to see another day. I begged Mike to take me to a small park South of the I 44 I’d read about, largest waterfalls in Indiana, how could I not go! Our last day there we took a drive in the drizzle and explored Cataract Falls and the last covered bridge in Owen County. Mike sat in the truck;) it was 42° and windy, not nice, but this river was roaring and the falls were beautiful and hardly a sole to be seen. I broke out the tripod and ND8 filter to play with some long exposures, loved it! The roar of the water was amazing.
Reasons to wander about on rainy days:) The bridge was fun, used to store the park picnic tables, but why not. It still looked closed for the season but I’m glad we stopped by for a visit. The lower falls were empty save for a lone fisherman trying his luck.
Those little bits of Americana you are glad to see. It’s funny the feelings it stirs. On one hand, I sometimes feel so very out of touch with the Midwest. I’m not religious, in any way, we come from a long line of agnostics-generations of them. The beauty is everywhere you look, regardless of what you believe in, or who and what you worship.
The trip to Howe was shorter, we got off the interstate and found a few smaller roads that wound North. So glad we did, beautiful little towns and wonderful old buildings, neat farms and Amish carts parked outside. I could spend a week here easily! The DRV factory is to the South of the Interstate and their brand new service facility across the road from it. 8 neat and level spots are available to incoming coaches with full hookups and there was a bevy of beauties parked there. It filled up as the day wore on and we had the chance to chat with some lovely people who filled us in on how it would go, always great advice. A guard came up and introduced himself, saying he would be there until 8, then told us who was taking over, a lot of coin parked here:)
We were up at 5 this morning to get over to the service center by 6, get the slides in, well, most of the way for the worst sticky one, jacks up. Our service tech came over and told us we were his:) Very friendly and to the point. They moved Myrtle into the bay and we went over what needed to be done, wonderful! Sad to leave the coach, our home, but so looking forward to everything working as it should. In your hands now Ed! We’ll be by to take a peek with her slides out later!
So, that is all for now, stay tuned, amazing Mexican tacos in Sturgis, MI??? YES it’s so, the best we’ve had North of the border, stay tuned for all the details and pictures of a pequeño pedaso de Mexico while we await for Myrtle! Hotel bound:(