We only had a week to rest up from our September trip to Wisconsin before it was time to head toward Virginia to visit Jeff’s mother in early October. Previously, we’ve not been able to visit her until November, but by traveling during October, we hoped to see some Fall foliage instead of bare trees like before.
We continued to hop from one Coast to Coast campground to another as much as possible. It worked very well except for one night in Western Virginia when we stayed at a convenient State Park right along I-81, called Starved Mother, because no Coast to Coast campgrounds were near. It as a beautiful park. . .except for the exorbitant cost of $36+ for one night with just electric & water only on a gravel pad. Walmart’s parking lot would have been just fine & more reasonable.
Since it was sort of on our way eastward though, we decided to take the opportunity to swing by the Oliver Travel Trailer office & manufacturing plant in Hohenwald TN. We were pleased to meet up with Robert Partee again, one of the company’s salespeople, for a great tour & Q&A regarding their 22’ double axle trailer. As much as we love our Liberty Casita, there are occasions when an extra 2-4’ is very desirable & we seem to continue to get stuck in frigid weather. The Oliver is truly a four-season trailer with enclosed, heated holding tanks & dump valves, double-pane windows, & numerous very-nice-to-have features like built-in stabilizers, tank & battery monitors, & room for multiple batteries. However, they only have one layout — an extended Spirit version with the king bed backend, & because even the inside fiberglass shell is all one molded piece, nothing can be rearranged even during the build. Even IF we were OK giving up the galley across from the frig as in the Liberty, we want the seating next to the bed since one of us is likely to lay on the bed while the other sits at the dinette while both are watching television. I’ve never wanted to look out the driver-side window at a neighbor’s campsite either. Guess we’ll just have to wait for Oliver to come out with a Liberty version some year. I’m also not crazy about any of the blah (beiges or black) decorating options that don’t counter that sense of living inside a refrigerator. But — we definitely like & want all the advanced built-in systems & conveniences.
Anyway, we had a very nice, quiet visit with Jeff’s mother, plus a visit also from his youngest brother & wife. We also finally replaced our original converter which died back in August as the weather was perfect for finally turning off all power. The new 3-stage converter did a great job of fully charging our batteries. . .for a week. Jeff found a breaker that had worked loose on our way back to Branson, but that didn’t fix it. So, we’re back to using a battery tender plugged in to keep the frig & lights running until we can get it looked at.
Unfortunately, our visit east was a bit early for good Fall foliage. Nevertheless, the weather was perfect for revisiting Gettysburg National Battlefield. We were there 10 years ago in July with very high temps & humidity, so outside viewing anything was very uncomfortable. My favorite place this visit was Devil’s Den which we skipped last time due to the heat. I really enjoyed looking all around the jumble of BIG rocks (one of my passions).
Next, I finally got to visit Falling Water, a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. I’ve tried for four years to get near southwestern Pittsburg PA to see this house, but we either didn’t have time at all or it was a Wednesday, the day they’re closed. The walking tour is 2 hours long, up & down stairs to look all around both inside & outside, & Jeff did a very admirable job accompanying me, in spite of his issues walking. I believe the foliage was at least a week away from optimum color, but it was still an amazing place!
I have new photo folders in Picasa but because it’s been taken over by Google+, I can’t get photos from Picasa to Live Writer that makes these images linkable to the on-line albums in Live Writer. However, I’ve attempted to insert a link to the albums in the above photos that might work to see the rest of the albums.
We stayed at two more Coast to Coast campgrounds on our way home from PA, but after twelve nights on the road, we were anxious to get back to Branson & relax. This packing & hooking up every day or two wears out not only us, but the critters too. Although we spent 12½ hours on the road that last day, it was a perfect weather with a tailwind & gas prices all the way down to $2.73 southwest of St Louis.
After another week of relaxing though, it was time to make our last trip to family & friends from Kansas City to Branson for a final holiday gathering. I also had a chance to help my 92 yo father pick out & learn to use a smartphone, a Samsung S4. He’s doing amazingly well getting comfortable with it — & can even make phone calls with it too. He now has an email address & was shocked to learn he could actually get on the internet with just a cell phone. We’ve had fun sending emails, photos, videos, & text messages.
Finally by early November, it was time to start our winter escape, via a stop at the VA Hospital in Little Rock for a couple of medical appointments. We stayed at the Maumelle Campground COE right on the Arkansas River. We’d forgotten how spacious COE campgrounds are.
Little Rock is a much hillier town than I realized — just a gorgeous city. We even made it to Applebee’s on Veteran’s Day for a fantastic free lunch. Seems we’ve been traveling the last two years on this day, so this opportunity was even more appreciated. Unfortunately, the early artic plunge caught us before getting out of it’s way. Thankfully, our egg is very easy to heat & keep deliciously warm. And, AND, AND by mid-November, we can finally head west to the Sonoran Desert for the winter after getting some improvements done along the way at Little House Custom east of Dallas.!!! I know I’ll miss all the trees around Branson as I bask in the warmth of the SW this winter, but I have to remember those gorgeous trees to the East are very bare & unprotective during the winter. They will welcome us back in the Spring (when I can once again worry about tornadoes).
I’ve learned that by using a special cable with a regular USB on one end & a mini-USB on the other end I can download photos from my Sony & Canon cameras directly to my cell phone, which then gets backed up to Google+. And I can use this cable also to hook up an external keyboard to my cell phone to actually type up a blog post (& insert photos) more comfortably without having to fire up my laptop. Don’cha just luv technology!!