Category Archives: Destinations

A Peek Inside an RV Factory

Unfinished Class A Coachmen
It  feels very odd to see a rig in the process of being constructed when we are so used to seeing only the finished product.

Coachmen, in business for 50 years, makes RVs of many styles including: travel trailers, 5th wheels, Class A, both diesel and gas, Class B and Class C motor homes, popups. I think they also have a housing division that makes mobile homes. I could be leaving some things out. The campus is huge. I was really floored when I saw all the Ford E450 cutaway vans parked in different places around the campus. That’s the chassis on which they build most of their Class C motorhomes, the chassis upon which the whole RV industry builds most of their Class Cs. I was told Coachmen keeps enough E450s around for a 3-6 month supply and that they build up to 20 a day. That would be up to something like 2,400 E450s. The sticker price on those is $32,660. That equates to over $78,000,000 worth of E450s. Even at 25% off sticker it’s still near $60,000,000. Wow! READ MORE…

Peaks-Kenny State Park, Dover-Foxcroft, ME

Sebec Lake: Peaks-Kenny State Park, Dover-Faircroft, ME
Sebec Lake: Peaks-Kenny State Park, Dover-Foxcroft, ME

Peaks-Kenny is a very nice campground in the Maine woods alongside Sebec Lake at which you’ll find swimming and boating–canoes and kayaks can be rented for just $3 an hour! There is a roped off swimming area at the lake and a lifeguard stand which I presume is staffed during certain hours. “Very nice” is subjective of course, but my kind of campground is in the woods with lots of green, awakening to songbirds in the morning, spacious and well spaced camp sites and quiet nights. Of course, some of these things are seasonal. Generator hours (8-8 if I recall) are different than quiet hours and I was told that if a neighbor complains even during generator hours you may be asked to shut yours down. READ MORE…

Campground Report: Lake Waramaug State Park, New Preston, CT

Lovers - Lake Waramaug
A young couple enjoy each other’s company along the shore of Lake Waramaug, CT.
Lake Waramaug Campground is a Connecticut State Park Campground. For CT residents it’s $17 a night. I was a bit taken aback when I was billed $27 a night on the ReserveAmerica web site. It’s very hard to find out what you will actually pay on their site and I wish more people would complain about this to the various entities that hire them to handle their reservations. READ MORE…

The Okefenokee Swamp

Waterway in the Okefenokee Swamp, GA
The water in the swamp is brown from high concentrations of tannic acid. It appears black which makes reflections stand out.

It looks like there’ll be no Internet today. I’m in the heart of the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia, at a campground in Stephen C. Foster State Park which is on an island in the swamp. There’s no sense of being on an island though, you can’t see a body of water anywhere. Internet and cellular come and go seemingly at whim and even when the technology Gods grace us with a moment of connectivity it is frustratingly sloth like.

Alligator, Okefenokee Swamp, GA
I guess you could say this gator was chillin’ even though he was warmin’ in the sun. He didn’t seem to mind our presence… I mean he didn’t eat any of us or anything like that.

It’s nearly 9:00 A.M. As I peer out the window of my my RV I’m surrounded by a dense jungle of trees and small palms, Spanish moss draped from the branches of the trees giving this wooded spot a feeling of magic, romance and mystery. It’s quite beautiful. Various songbirds and more jungly, exotic sounding birds call out to each other, and who knows, maybe to me as well. I sometimes answer. The past couple days the air has been thick with dragonflies but I see no sign of them today. Not yet anyway. It will be hot today. Hotter than yesterday. Somewhere in the 80s I expect and it will be humid.

Cypress Knees, Okefenokee Swamp, GA
The function of these cypress knees is not understood by scientists. It’s obvious to me they were intended to make a cool photo.

This is my third and final day here in the Okefenokee. Gee that’s fun to say. Wet weather has been chasing me around the country for what seems like weeks, from Pie Town in the mountains of New Mexico which is named after, well,  pie, to Roswell, famous for space aliens, through the panhandle of Texas to Wichita Falls. It chased me into Oklahoma where it only got worse. In Sulphur and Hodgen there were heavy thunder storms and tornado and severe weather watches. Rain followed me to Hot Springs, Arkansas then Greenville, Mississippi, up the Natchez Trace Parkway into Nashville, Tennessee with more severe weather warnings and the threat of tornados and hail the size of golfballs and larger. It wasn’t rain all day every day, but there was certainly a shortage of dry, sunny weather even as I continued my route now southerly from Nashville through Birmingham, Alabama and onto Montgomery and then more southerly into the Florida panhandle to Falling Waters near Chipley. Man oh man was Alabama beautiful! Even along I-65 it felt like I was driving through a verdant green forest–and I was: it was spring and the Interstate tree-lined. Yesterday, finally, was the most beautiful and perfect day of gentle winds, sunshine and warmth, and the timing was perfect for I had booked a boat tour here at Stephen C. Foster State Park deep in the heart of the Okefenokee.

Street signs in the Okefenokee
I was amused when we came to this junction of waterways in the swamp: note the “street signs” on the left. Look carefully and you’ll also see the eyes and snout of a gator guarding the entry to the side street!

We motored through the waterways and saw many alligators sunning on the banks, some on logs and others half submerged along the shore. Occasionally a shy one would dive under the water as we approached, but many didn’t seem to pay us any mind at all and we were able to get within maybe 20′ of them to snap a photo or two. We saw egrets and other wetland birds. A hawk or two soared overhead and we could hear the rat-a-tat-tat of woodpeckers judiciously at work. The brown water, so colored from a high concentration of tannic acid, appeared black and reflected like a mirror the bright, spring green needles of the cypress with their furrowed trunks that seem content to grow right out of the water. Cypress, a kind of conifer is not an evergreen. It sheds it’s needles every year. I had hoped to find some large old cypress to photograph in misty conditions to make some wonderfully creepy swamp photos. I was disappointed to learn that the Okefenokee had been heavily logged of the old growth trees many years ago. The trees now are much younger and smaller.

Cypress and ferns, Okefenokee Swamp, GA
Cypress and ferns, Okefenokee Swamp, GA. Taken along the nature path behind the visitor center.

And so it was when I penned–or is it clicked?–most of this report but a short week ago. Since then I’ve been to Savannah and Brunswick GA, and now find myself in the woods near Lancaster SC, soon to be launching into North Carolina in search of spring along the Blue Ridge Parkway. For this I’ll have to stall somewhat as I’ve learned that spring has not yet fully sprung at the higher parts of the mountains. I expect to take some time to lallygag as well as to catch up with chores and blogging. I could use a rest. All this traveling and sightseeing has got me plum tuckered out.

Meriwether Lewis Campground, Natchez Trace Parkway National Park, Hohenwald, TN

Section of the original Natchez Trace
This shot represents an idyllic section of the original Natchez Trace, the Old Trace as it is sometimes called. In reality, some sections of the Trace at times were miserable with water and mud, heat, humidity, insects and highwaymen (robbers). Travel was sometimes extremely difficult, even impossible.

The campground sits on a hilltop and as I wrote this in early April many if not most sites have views through the trees in one or more directions. Once the trees fill out with the new leaves leaves of spring (they were still bare when I was there) those views will likely disappear–the campground is in a forest of deciduous trees.

Just a mile from the campground is the gravesite of and memorial to Meriwether Lewis of the famed Lewis and Clark Expedition also known as the Corps of Discovery. After that famed expedition, as Governor of the Louisiana Territory, Lewis traveled the Old Trace on his way to Washington D.C. and it is within a few steps of his gravesite that he met his untimely death by gunshot. It appears uncertain whether it was murder or suicide. READ MORE…

Exploring My New “Home”, Imperial Dam LTVA, Part Four: A Sheep in Wolves’ Clothing

Vicious Beast
This vicious beast, in reality, is really cute little dog that suffers from an overbite. The  the light in his eyes is making him squint as they reflect the color of the sandy hillside behind me giving him, along with the overbite, a rather menacing appearance. Other than belonging to someone here at Imperial Dam LTVA this pooch has nothing to do with this story but made for a good lead in, I thought.

As I was first exploring my new neighborhood I walked by a neighbor’s RV and this very long legged, snow-dog like looking creature appeared from behind the vehicle, barking, leaping in the air, tugging on her chain, running back and forth, her eyes fixed intently upon me. I knew I’d be a goner if the creature somehow got loose. READ MORE…

Boondocking Report: IMPERIAL DAM, BLM LONG TERM VISITOR AREA, NEAR YUMA, AZ

 

Road to Ferguson Lake
From South Mesa at Imperial Dam LTVA it’s about 8 or so miles up a dirt road Ferguson Lake. The road had just been graded when I was there so passage was easy. The countryside is desolate but beautiful. I saw two other vehicles on that drive.

This is an interesting and unusual place! It quickly became evident that there is community here and that many campers have been coming here for the Season (see Seasonality, below) or a large part of it for many years. Many of them know each other or at least know of each other. I didn’t know what to expect before arriving here and now about a week later I’m still discovering things. What kind of things? All kinds of things: There are maybe 25 named camping areas within the Imperial Dam LTVA. There is a real sense of community here with organized hikes, potlucks, musical performances, model airplane and race car meets, exercise and yoga groups, all organized by campers. There’s and ice cream truck that comes around every other Thursday I’m told, a guy with a wifi hotspot, the nearby Christian Center where you can send and receive mail, get propane, telephone messages, get Internet access and more. There is lots of hiking around here and a bat habitat where, beginning about March, I’m told, you can see, well, bats. READ MORE…