Thursday, December 12, 2013

Can’t outrun winter!

Whew, getting caught up with last month’s travels. We had a great visit with Jeff’s mom, brother, & SIL in Virginia in early November, &  spent a whole day traveling Highway 60 west thru West Virginia. Gorgeous mountains although most trees were ugly bare. Thankfully we got thru the area before the Cleon snow storm passed over. We took part of this route years ago & wanted to revisit Kanawha Falls, SE of Charleston WV where the Ohio River tumbles over a long rock ledge to produce a row of numerous water falls.


The next day, we traveled Highway 52 northwest thru Ohio along the Ohio River until turning west onto Highway 50 west of Cincinnati. . .all the way to Kansas City. We spent a night at a Jackson Washington State Park near Browntown, IN, parking next to a gorgeous little lake.

While traveling Highway 50 across central MO, we stopped by the state capitol building at Jefferson City. I hadn’t been there since high school, but it’s still an impressive sight.

Southwest of St Louis, we met up with long-time camping buddies Chris & Alan of Off-Road Camping Club to catch up on the last four years since we’ve seen them.

Unfortunately, we had an issue approaching the Mississippi River east of St Louis on I-64 — the weld that raised up the cargo deck on the back of the Casita (holding our four 6V batteries) broke & was dragging on the pavement. Thankfully, a passing motorist alerted us to the problem, but moving those batteries into the trailer & taking the cargo deck off the hitch while parked along side a fast & furious 6-lane interstate was stressful! It all worked out & we managed tho.

We took three leisurely days to get back to Kansas City for an early Thanksgiving dinner with Jeff’s daughter, grandson, & SIL. We also went to a local trailer shop in Kansas City to get a heavier-duty cargo deck & a strong plastic cargo box for the batteries. Two days later, we had another early Thanksgiving lunch with my parents. And finally two days later, we had our last Thanksgiving dinner at my cousin’s house in Branson.

We had this timed so as to make it back to the Branson VA on Friday after Thanksgiving for us each to go to the eye clinic & Jeff to see Audiology. Yeah — he gets a new set of hearing aids. . .except we don’t pick them up until New Year’s Eve. That means. . .we can’t get too far away from Branson for the next two weeks, or head south out of WINTER to Big Bend National Park until January! Poop!!

I also had a tense week waiting to return to Branson to have a diagnostic mammogram after the previous routine image showed a strange shadow in one spot. Thankfully, the suspicious area was scar tissue, but it sure had me revisiting some bad memories from 2009 when my cancer was found & treated. I was nearly as nauseated the day of my afternoon appointment as ever when having chemo. However, the experience reminds me of why it’s so important to us to live this lifestyle (in a small space), seeing lots of the country that Jeff & I both served in the military for. Life has an unknown expiration date, so live each day like it’s the last!

After spending most of October & November driveway docking or traveling from one point to another, we are pooped. Think of a 2-month long vacation where you’re happy to go back to work just to rest up & get back to your normal life. We wanted to return to Quachita Lake, west of Hot Springs AR, to decompress & boondock — but the area had freezing rain predicted (& received), soooo we headed north instead to Warsaw MO (Truman Lake COE). We had five very COLD but non-snowy or icy days relaxing in our cozy space before stopping by my parents on our way toward Little House Customs for some repair work. Both my mom & Jeff’s mom birthdays were Saturday, December 7th so it was good timing. Hard to forget either birthday this way. However. . .we had SNOW finally on the day we left the COE. And, our black/gray tank valves were frozen shut!

The roads were clear & mainly dry getting thru MO & OK although campsite pads were solid sheets of ice (very careful walking was required). The temps even got above freezing finally as we camped on the OK/TX border at Lakeside Campground COE on Lake Texoma, west of Durant OK.

I received a surprise email from a couple of blog followers in Denton TX who belong to Boondockers Welcome, offering us a parking spot during our trip for Casita repairs in exchange for a look-see at our Casita & some ideas for boondocking comfortably. They’re only a few hours drive to Larry Gamble’s shop.

If MO/AR/OK continue to have frigid temps and/or more ice/snow, we’ll just hang out in NE TX until returning to Branson. If the weather calms down tho, we’d like to return to Quachita Lake. Hopefully we can get to my parents for Christmas tho. We sure didn’t want to make the MO-TX run twice, but that’s why we’re happy to be able to stir the Jell-O when plans need to change. However, we WILL organize all these VA medical appointments better next year so we don’t have a need to stay in the area so late in the year. Most winters in Kansas City never even had snow before Christmas tho, so all these storms are really unusual. . .as is the frigid temps all across the country.


  1. Well I've caught up with you. Hope your apts all go well and you escape winter successfully. It's 15 below (Celsius) here, with lots of blowing snow. No way we can escape winter! I've signed up so I can follow your travels.

  2. My head is spinning! I need a diagram or at least a map....I know you were in VA and were going to KC but I got lost somewhere between Branson and TX. It's been only a bit more than a month since you were here. That's a lot of miles.

    So glad the scare has past. I held my breath when I read "strange shadow". What an ordeal!
    My newest favorite saying is "everyday above ground is a good day!"

    Glad the back deck problem did not cause mayhem!
    We will be heading west toward Little House just after the first of the year. May run into you somewhere in TX!

  3. Nice picture of the Capital in JEFFERSON City. Next time give me a shout!
    Safe travels.

  4. You guys have been busy!!! So glad you were able to see and spend time with family during the holidays!!
    Also, very...very glad your mammogram turned out fine. I sweat that out every year but have not had the past issue you had. I can only imagine your worry.
    So glad the issue with the cargo deck was caught and fixed without any HUGE damage!!
    Stay warm!!

  5. I'm glad this cancer scare was a false alarm. May the weather and travel gods smile upon you!

  6. Nice pictures. Glad all is well with you. We are heading to Virginia to visit our daughter in the Spring. Say 'Hi' to Larry for me. We are still traveling and taking time off from window making! Are you members at Boondockers Welcome? How nice of this couple to call you and invite you in. Very special. No Quartzsite this year? I was looking forward to meeting you. Maybe our paths will cross next year.


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