On Our Way to the Ozarks

We left Florida and made an overnight stop at Vicksburg, Mississippi. After setting up, we drove downtown to perhaps pickup some dinner. We drove and drove, turned this way and that way and not finding anything of interest, shrugged at each other and went to one of the local casinos and had a buffet dinner there instead.  Our preference is to stay away for those type of establishments as the tendency is to eat with your eyes.  Regardless, the food was bountiful and tasty.

Vicksburg is a historical town with many civil war attractions, the largest of which is Vicksburg National Cemetery is part of the military park, located by the USS Cairo.  Vicksburg National Military Park is the second largest national cemetery holding the remains of 17,000 Civil War Union soldiers.  The town itself, other than for the casinos, in my humble opinion, was rather depressing and but for the churches  which were kept up very nicely, the buildings and houses were old and tattered.

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We left Vicksburg and crossed the bridge over into Louisiana.  Driving through these small cities made me sad.  They all are mostly depressed with stores either closed or shut down, with no shopping other than a small Walmart speckled every now and then and, of course, the usual Family Dollars or Dollar Generals.  The drive itself was pleasant and the view was dominated by corn fields, pecan fields, the occasional rice paddies, and Lake Providence, a large, beautiful lake with tons of cypresses along its shores.  Seeing the differently shaped cypress knees sprouting from the water reminded me of the trip we took into the Louisiana Bayou a few years ago but even more so for the beautifully hand painted cypress knee made to resemble an adorable Santa Claus, which I still am in the lookout for.

We arrived in Little Rock and again met up with Joe and Melodie.  Some have said we are stalking each other, but in reality we both had  similar itineraries, so why not play with friends whenever possible. We both stayed at Downtown Riversides, a campground on the banks of the Arkansas River, across from the Clinton Presidential Library and downtown Arkansas.

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DOWNTOWN RIVERSIDE RV PARK

We had the opportunity to also connect with old work friends, Tony and Darlette Ellis.  Darlette and Tony suggested that we go to dinner at Doe’s Eat Place, a little hole in the wall which has become a local hangout and has been around for ever.  Had we driven by and not known about it, we would have never even considered stopping, as it’s really not much to look at.  Oh boy, were we glad we did.  Doe’s was a true gem.  The decor was simple and contained tons of memorabilia and pictures of patrons, celebrities, and politicians, hanging on the walls all bringing each and every one of those moments to life.  The focus however, was the food.  It was absolutely, incredibly delicious and the portions were so tremendously large that sharing was highly recommended.  Whenever we come back to this area again, a stop at Doe’s is a must!

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On our last night in Little Rock, Joe, Melodie, John and I went to Buenos Aires Restaurant, where they served authentic Argentinian fare.  Again, the food was very good but the company was even better.

 

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Now for the saga, approaching Little Rock, our tire monitor display read that one of our truck’s tires was low on air.  Also, immediately upon arriving, we noticed that the hub cap for our right rear tire had fallen off.  For the third time!  (Most recently, it had fallen while we were in Stuart).  The following morning we took the truck to a dealer (our first mistake), purchased another hub cap and had them look into the tire situation.  After a four hour wait, and close to $300 later, they installed a new hub cap and replaced the extended valve stem, which they claimed was not working properly, which was also replaced in April, while in Sebring.

On our last day as we were preparing to leave, we were manually checking the tires’ pressure and simply could not access the one day old, newly installed extended valve stem.  Off to another tire store we went where they remounted the inside back tire so that the extended stem could be accessed from the outside tire and wouldn’t you believe they tell us that the extended stem used was not working either.  Really????

We must have driven around for at least an hour looking for the darn extension.  Mind you, we had not yet tucked in and the jacks were not up.  We gave up the search and since the tire had good pressure we decided to just leave.

We left for Table Rock Lake sad that it will be a long time before we see these guys again but excited to meet up with yet another set of friends, Cindy and Steve.

The country roads to our next rendezvous were narrow, winding and hilly, not a good combination for us flatlanders.  The GPS was even telling us to drive through neighborhoods.  Thank goodness for alternative apps, (Allstays is my go to app),  which allowed me to identify alternate routes which ultimately took us to our destination.

We arrived at Ozarks RV Park in Table Rock.  This park overlooks Table Rock Lake and is very scenic.  The site assigned to us was very nice with an absolutely beautiful view, so I was excited to get settled in and relax, given all the running around and tense driving we had just done that morning.

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I began opening the slides and the bedroom extended, but neither the kitchen, nor the living slides would.  We immediately contacted a mobile service guy and as luck would have it, he was already in the park and was looking into our issue within minutes.  However, after two hours of meticulous checking and testing, he concluded that the batteries we had, which were only  three months old, were not working  so we had to purchase new ones.  Uggh.  Anyway, once all was fixed, we went straight to having fun.

Cindy and Steve arrived late on Friday night and from that moment on, it was non-stop fun.  We boated, went swimming and tubing, played games, golf, and pickleball.

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On Monday, we left the Ozarks and started heading toward Texas.  It was so nice seeing and reconnecting with our friends, Cindy and Steve again.

 

Leaving Our Happy Place

We got ready to leave Jacksonville heading for Navarre, a small town in the panhandle overlooking the Santa Rosa Sound.  All the slides were in, and the jacks were up when John started yelling at me that I had forgotten to lower the satellite dish.  Hmmm, I know I pressed all the appropriate buttons in the right sequence and even heard the motor of the dish stowing, so needless to say, I was confused.  I then looked at the display and it read EL motor home failure.  We have had the satellite dish for over four years and had never seen this message.  So, I tried to stow it again and the got the same message.  The dish just would not stow.  We couldn’t leave unless the dish was stowed.  So we had no choice but to do the millennial thing, use our phones to GTS.  What is GTS, you might say?  (Well, it’s google that sh..!)  Fortunately, we found an illustration showing us what to do to stow the dish manually.  Perfect, it appeared to be a simple task, except we had to go up on the roof to execute it.  Anxiously, up on the roof I went and after trying unsuccessfully for a while we decided to call several repair shops and mobile repair companies.  None could come out to help us right away and even if they could, they really did not know what to do.  The situation was that John had NEVER been on the RV roof.  I simply would never let him.  I cited health reasons but honestly, I was not even sure that the rear ladder would hold his weight and became really concerned as he suffers from mild acrophobia (fear of heights).  Naturally, John falling off the roof was certainly not in the plan.  I was so proud of him, although scared, he managed to climb the ladder, remove the necessary bolts, manually stow the dish and climbed back down.  What a relief!!!  I asked him if he had taken the opportunity to look at the roof, as he had never been on it and he said, absolutely not, his concern was to get up, get the job down, not fall off in the process and get down as quickly as possible.  That was one problem solved but we still needed to figure out why we received that message to begin with.  While John was driving, I spoke on the phone with a Winegard technician directly and received the instructions on how to recalibrate the system.  She even emailed me the instructions for the future.  Upon our arrival in Navarre, I successfully followed the instructions and VOILÁ our satellite dish was back in business.  John was happy and life was good again.

Santa Rosa Waterfront RV Park is a lovely, small park right on the Santa Rosa Sound.  The sites were a bit close together but the owners were in the process of adding shrubbery in between them to create more privacy.  It has a beautiful pool area, but even nicer, our site backed up to the Sound and we could hear the lulling sound of water lapping on the shore all day and night long.  Add to that a soft blowing wind and oh dear, we were in heaven!  I decided to soak it all in as much as possible as we would not be able to enjoy this type of view in a long while.

The following morning, while sitting outside and enjoying the view, we thought we smelled gas.  We have two LP tanks.  As both valves were closed we didn’t immediately register where the smell was coming from.  Upon inspection of one of the tanks and it was cold and sweaty.  Now, that was unusual.  As luck would have it, a mobile RV service person was two sites away so I posed the situation and he came over only to diagnose the problem.  He informed us that albeit rare, the tank was bad and needed to be replaced as it probably had a small leak somewhere and that it was not worth repairing and it would be more economical to replace it.  Wouldn’t you know, just down the road, less than 10 minutes away was a Camping World location where we purchased a new tank and just for good measure, new valves as well.  John replaced everything and we were good to go.

We took a drive to Pensacola Beach and returned via the scenic route through the Gulf Islands National Seashore, located in Santa Rosa Island, all the way to Navarre Beach.  Imagine being in a totally desolate area with pristine, crystal clear emerald green water, sand so white it’s blinding, giving the appearance of sugar, and so fine you sink in it as you walk.  Imagine seagrass swaying back and forth in the wind trying to keep pace with the waves lapping on the shore. The beach is my happy place for sure.

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We again met up with our friends, Melodie and Joe, at Florabama for lunch.  We appear to be traveling in the same direction, only just a few days apart from each other, and this happened to be one of the places in which our travels overlapped.

We took walks on the beach, played golf, ate seafood, took in beautiful views of the Sound and even watched incoming storms, and even made new friends.

After a week in Navarre, leaving Florida brought bittersweet emotions.  We knew this time was coming but now that we actually left, it was exciting.  We will not return for several years as there are many other places to visit.

With that in mind, we made our way toward Little Rock, Arkansas via Vicksburg, Mississippi.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Favorite Break from Our Travels

Randy and Carolyn absolutely needed a mini-vacation and back in February we excitedly and gladly volunteered to babysit our two adorable little grandsons.  We talked about bringing Jackson with us but were warned that Jackson and the boys might just be a bit too much.  Of course, the final decision was totally left up to us, but after some discussion, we thought perhaps it would be best if we provided undivided attention to the boys.  So off to doggie Taj Mahal Jackson went.

They left very early the following morning, cautious that if they were to be seen by the little ones, meltdowns would soon follow.  At 6:30 am sharp, stirring sounds began, way before coffee.  Both boys hit the ground running, and after breakfast and lots of play, it was only 8:30 a.m.   We looked at each other and said, they were right, bringing Jackson would not have been a good idea.  When would we have had time to walk him?

Spending undivided time with the grands was fabulous.  We took them for ice cream, played and played, snuggled, cuddled, watched their favorite tv program Peppa Pig at least 100 times, (not exaggerating) and on our last night we all went out to dinner with our friends, Kelly and Doug.  The boys were fabulous at the restaurant.  Frankly, we could not even tell we had little ones with us.  They were wonderful for grammy and grandpa and gave us not a bit of trouble and what we are the most proud of is that there were absolutely no meltdowns!   Woohoo!!

 

We were truly sad to leave as we had so much fun and loved bonding with the boys, but it was time for us to resume our travels.  Looking forward to seeing you boys, Randy and Carolyn in October for Katrina’s wedding in Colorado!

After a full day of much needed rest, we will resume our  adventures.  On to Navarre Beach, Florida.