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  • C Bracknell

Fall 2016 Bike Trip September 11- 28

This was our 13th fall trip of a week or more since our retirement in 2003. The main goal of this trip was to add trail rides in two more states bringing the total to 45 states in which I have ridden one or more trails. We also wanted to see what Branson, Missouri looked like, visit the National Cowboy Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City and then head on out to the Sante Fe area to explore more of northern New Mexico and southern Utah.

We had a hectic week before this trip. We knew there was a lot to be done before our schedule departure on Sunday the 11th. This was a week later than we have left in the past. It was mainly due to the extremely hot weather we were having. As it turned out it would have been better if we had waited another week. There was the garden. Even though it was on its final output, I was still getting okra and tomatoes everyday. The butter beans needed another going over and an occasional bell pepper could be harvested. I had instructed a couple of the neighbors to cull what they could from what was still producing after we left.

We started out the week with having to drop the camper shell by a body shop to be painted and then go on to Galax thirty miles away to have the RV dealer look at the TV antenna on our six month old camper (they discovered it was defective and had to order a new one). We found out it did not work when we camped at Douglas Lake in late May. There was church, haircuts, and some shopping in town on Wednesday. I also had to go by the welding shop to pick up a step device I had made to make it easier to get things out of the bed of the truck.

On Thursday, we picked up the camper shell and I spent most of the afternoon putting the windows back in. I had it painted for several reasons. For one, it was a shade or two off from the color of the truck. It made it appear I was trying to match it and miscalculated. Secondly, there were two spots on the top which the clear coat was coming off. The primary reason to paint it was so it would better tie in with the camper which is mostly white. I had it painted white, the windows were black and I ordered a couple of decals (gold swooshes) from the manufacturer of the camper (Forest River) to put on the shell to further tie it together. After finishing with the camper shell, I got about half of the yard mowed.

On Friday, Rhonda and I went to the Forest Service work station in Sugar Grove to pick up our club (PATH) brush mower to mow about a mile of my section of the Appalachian Trail. I had not planned to mow again this year (I had already mowed three times earlier), but it had been rainy for a week or so and it had promoted more growth. My section has a lot of blackberry bushes and wild rose. If it is not mowed monthly, during the summer it starts to close in on the trail.

We finished by a little after noon and headed back to put up the mower and have lunch along the way. After leaving Sugar Grove, we went by town to pick up something from church and I got three more buckets of drive way sealer. I got it applied and the mowing finished before dark. The sealer had to be applied with the temperature above 60 for 24 hours. I knew that we would not likely have 60 degree nights after we got back around the end of the month.

Saturday was a day of organizing and loading the truck and camper with a few other last minute chores thrown in.

After church on Sunday, we came home ate lunch, finished loading the truck and got away by 1:45 pm. We drove west past Knoxville and stopped at a campground not far off I-40 in Crossville, Tn. It was the Bean Pot RV park. The previous owner had also operated a restaurant nearer the interstate. The current owner of the RV park said it was kind of like Cracker Barrel, but served a different king of bean soup each day of the week. We had gained an hour crossing into the central time zone. We had time to set up, eat supper and relax a bit before a shower and bedtime.

The next morning we were off by 8 am (central time). After driving most of the day, we arrived at Village Creek State Park around 4 o'clock. There was only one short delay just outside of Memphis where I-240 connects with I-40. There was major road construction going on there. It had been hot all day. Even with the air condition on, if you were on the side the sun was shining in, it was warm. It was close to 90 all afternoon.

The campsite was in shade, but we ran the air condition until after midnight. The restroom/shower facility had just been remodeled and was very nice. We only had three neighbors. I rode the bike around the park for about five miles after supper, to loosen up for the next days ride.

The next morning we were up early and heading to the trail head for the Delta Heritage Trail about an hour's drive south. The afternoon temperature was forecast to be above 90°, so early was better; especially since the last third of the trail had no shade. The further we drove south from I-40 the flatter it became. Most of the landscape was huge fields of cotton and soybeans.

We arrived at the trail head at about 8:15. The parking area was just out of the little town of Lexa. The trail was listed as being 20 miles long and was my first trail in Arkansas. (#144). After a photo and packing two bottles of water, I headed out south. An attendant on a four wheeler was there emptying the trash and left just before I did. I was surprised to find the trail surface in such excellent condition for a dirt trail way out in an agricultural area. For the first five miles, there were mileage markers every half mile. After that, they were every mile, until near the end where most was absent or missing.

Rhonda met me at the twelve mile point and gave me another bottle of water. There was a small community named Lake View. There was a kiosh there detailing the history of a depression relocation project in 1937 where 95 black families were given 40 acres of land and a house to be paid back. At the end of the trail, in the very poor looking town of Elaine, I loaded up the bike and we headed back to Forest City for lunch,

We stopped at a place called Delta Q's. We had seen an sign on the interstate and there was an ad in the material we got from the park office. We split a large sampler platter of chicken, ribs, brisket and pulled pork. They provided a tin tray of pork skins to munch on while waiting for the order. The skins were dipped from a 30 gallon trash can by the waitress. It was all pretty good and others must have thought so also, since it was quite busy in the restaurant for a Tuesday lunch. When we returned to the park, we drove down to the swimming area at one of the two lakes. The water level was down enough in the sectioned off area for swimming that it would have been difficult to swim. I thought about coming back just to cool off, but changed my mind, thinking it probably wasn't worth the effort.

A small shower came by just before supper and helped cool things off. I brought along a small antenna, a piece of PVC pipe, and some tv cable to put up to watch TV, but had no luck getting any reception. We have used the set up a number of times in my home-built teardrop, we call the “Pod”. I thought we were possibly close enough to Memphis to pick up a station or two. I didn't know if the lack of reception was the size of the antenna or the connections. We had traded up for a slightly larger camper in April but discovered that the omni directional antenna was defective on a previous trip.

The next morning we were out early to make the five hour drive to Branson. We stopped in a grocery store parking lot in Marshall, Arkansas long enough to make sandwiches and have lunch in the camper. We arrived after lunch at the Table Rock State Park on Lake Table Rock seven miles south of town. The park was well maintained and we got a site for three nights. The only electric/water site left also had sewer connections which was a few dollars more, but it had some decent shade on a concrete pad.

After setting up, we drove into town and rode down the main strip. I was surprised to see the main road was primarily up on a ridge. Otherwise, it was the tourist town I expected with entertainer theaters, restaurants of all kinds, and amusements. We saw the RFD studios and a number of the big name entertainer's theaters. As we were leaving, Rhonda's keen eye, spotted a craft mall where individual vendors sold their wares. It was very entertaining to browse the huge number of booths. It started to rain as we went in but had stopped by the time we came out. On the way back, we stopped at the dock where the river showboat departed and bought tickets for the Friday lunch excursion that went out on the lake.

Rhonda made chicken stew and garlic cheese biscuits when we got back. We ate inside because the picnic table seats were wet. I had the awning out but the table was chained down, so we were unable to move it under cover. The late rain shower and the use of a fan allowed us to sleep without the air conditioning.

Thursday morning, we rode the bikes on a very nice two mile paved trail along the shore up to the dam visitor's center, which included a Corp of Engineer interpretive area for the lake and dam. There were some looped hiking trails across the road and by hiking all the loops and connectors one could rack up about 9 miles, but it was entirely too hot to consider it unless you started at daybreak. When we returned, we went back into Branson to walk around the old original downtown at Branson Landing on the White River and also drove around to see as much of the town as possible.

On Friday, we rode the trail again and killed time until it was time to get ready for the lunch cruise which started boarding at ll o'clock. The meal started with salad and bread. The main course was baked chicken and beef cooked in a most delicious sauce along with mashed red skin potatoes, whole pod snow peas and carrots. For desert, there was cinnamon apple ice cream pie.

The MCee of the show preformed magic as we ate. There was a male singer that had been a finalist on Amercia's Got Talent a few years back. So now you know what happens to those that don't win. There was also a violinist that performed aerial acrobatics using a long piece of fabric. At intermission, we strolled around on the top deck as the boat made a big circle of the lake. After the cruise, we drove back into town to get some post cards. When we returned to the park, Rhonda did laundry as another shower passed through.

Saturday, we packed up, unplugged, and connected to the truck, and headed north and west to Skiatook, Oklahoma. There is trail called the Osage Prairie Trail that runs north from Tulsa to Skiatook for 14 miles. The original old rail line began down around Fort Smith, Arkansas and ended up in Kansas. It was originally built to haul coal, but when the oil boom hit, crude oil became its primary cargo. We stopped at the Oklahoma visitor center on I-44 to pick up tourist information and had lunch in the camper.

When we arrived in Skiatook, there was a festival going on in the park that was the trail head for the trail. We drove on a few blocks to the Walmart where we left the camper parked and headed for Tulsa. I had failed to print a copy of the detail map of the trail head, but we had a general idea of the location from the map we had of Tulsa.

As we made our way in the general direction after exiting the expressway, we crossed the trail about ten blocks west as it crossed one of the main streets. We turned left at the next block and stayed parallel until we found the trail off a parking lot off the edge of the Tulsa branch of the University of Oklahoma. I recognized the area from the Google maps satellite view. After getting my phone and water bottle, I headed north and Rhonda headed back to the Skiatook Walmart.

The trail was paved and had well marked street crossings. I rode hard for the first twenty minutes, because the north Tulsa neighborhood the trail was going through was a little on the low end and one of the reviewers on TrailLink. com. said they were slightly intimadated by some local teens standing along the trail. Before reaching the end, the trail went through the little town of Sperry.

I called Rhonda as I approached the park (Skitook Central Park) where the festival was going on. She advised me that some bozo had parked in front of the camper while she was in the Walmart picking up a few items. When I arrived, I realized that there was a little wriggle room to get the truck backed up to the hitch if I backed in at a 45 degree angle. After hooking up, I could not resist writing a little note to the driver of the car that was parked closer than necessary stating that using some common sense in the future would probably be appreciated by those towing a trailer.

I had made reservations at a Corps of Engineer's campground called Tall Chief on Lake Skiatook. (you can tell by the names that we were in 'injun” territory). Generally, I don't like to make reservations in order to stay flexible, but Saturday is, many times, the most crowed night, We didn't have an address handy so the GPS couldn't find it. I knew the general direction, so we headed that way. As we were traveling west on Highway 20 out of town, I caught a glimpse of a brown road sign out of the corner of my eye, but we were past it before I could read it (brown signs usually indicate recreational areas or historical sites) We turned around and went back. After turning around again, we went back and saw that the sign was indicating that the lake and campground were five miles to the left.

We arrived, checked in and set up on the site. The sites had good spacing between them. They had electricity, but no water hook up on the site. There were faucets some distance between sites and it would have taken more hose than I had, It appeared that others camping there knew of this and had brought long hoses to make the hook up. Fortunately, we always carry a couple of gallon containers to use when such occasions arise.

On Sunday morning, we headed to Tulsa to take in the Gilcrease Art Museum which we discovered in the tourist information we had picked up. We began the tour in the gardens outside and then prepared to pay the admission fee, we discovered that there was not a fee charged on the third Sunday of each month.

The museum houses the world's largest and most comprehensive collection of art of the American west, as well as a growing collection of art and artifacts from central South America. The museum is named for Thomas Gilcrease, an oil man and avid art collector, who began the collection. He deeded the collection, as well as the property and building to the City of Tulsa in 1958 to save it from financial troubles. Since July 2008, the Gilcrease Museum has been managed by a public-private partnership of the City of Tulsa and the University of Tulsa.

Thomas Gilcrease grew up in the Creek Nation, located within present day Oklahoma. At the turn of the 20th century the federal government distributed lands held by American Indian tribes to private citizens. His tribal membership entitled him to an allotment of 160 acres located south of Tulsa near Glenpool. The land subsequently became part of one of Oklahoma's major oil fields.

After an extremely enjoyable time of browsing the art, we saw in our pamphlets that there was a farmers market across town, but when we got there, we discovered there wasn't much to it. Usually, farmers markets in different parts of the country are interesting in that they give a glimpse of what is made or grown in that region of the country. One of the most interesting ones we've visited was in Sante Fe, New Mexico (see the 2009 narrative). We surmised that it was because it was late in the season and it was on Sunday that the offerings and customers were scant.

One of the main tourist attractions was the giant Golden Driller oil man statue on the Tulsa fairgrounds. He is 75 feet tall and weighs 43,000 and is the fourth tallest statue in the US. It was built in 1952 for the International Petroleum Exposition. We had lunch across the street at a supermarket deli and then returned to the lake.

Back at the lake I changed into swim trunks and went for a swim in the lake. The site we had on Saturday night was reserved for Sunday, so we moved to another site with afternoon shade.

Monday morning, we headed south to Oklahoma City. There was a portion of the old Routr 66 paralleling the interstate so I decided to drive it to where we had to get off for the road to the state park. We went by a Route 66 museum in Clinton. Later, I read some information on it and wished we had stopped.

We drove out southeast of the city and south of I-40 to Lake Thunderbird State Park and arrived a little before lunch. After rechecking the map I discovered it was closer to Norman.

The camping area was in poor condition. There were signs of erosion around the sites and along the shore. May of 2015 had been the wettest month in Texas and Oklahoma's recorded history. There was trash in some of the fire pits and the restrooms/shower facilities were atrocious. The inside and outsides needed painting, the fixtures were old and the vent fans were inoperative. It was so hot and humid that it was difficult to dry off after the shower with no ventilation.

There were only a half dozen other campers and they were all in big units with their own larger showers. We have a shower, but have not used it because it is usually easier to one in the campground because of the size and having to use the water heater. It is nice to know it is available if needed. With the temperature in the mid 90s, we chose to spend the afternoon in the camper with the air conditioner running. The TV reception, again was intermittent.

The next day we headed out to Oklahoma City to visit the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. It is America's premier institution of Western history, art, and culture. Founded in 1955, the museum collects, preserves, and exhibits of internationally renowned collection of Western art and artifacts while sponsoring educational programs to stimulate interest in the enduring legacy of the American west. More than 10 million visitors from all around the world have sought out this unique museum to gain a better understanding of the west: a region and history that permeates our national culture.

The first exhibit we experienced was one on the Trans-American Railroad. It was completed in 1869 and one of the key emphasis was that it was built on the hard work by freed slaves and Chinese labors, none of which were allowed to be in famous photos of the completion when they drove in the golden spike at Promontory Summit in Utah.

As we spent the morning browsing the fantastic exhibits, we saw paintings, sculptures, artifacts and tools of the west. There were a collections of barbed wire, branding irons, spurs, boots, hats, clothing, saddles, and firearms.

There was a large area dedicated to the TV and movie cowboys from the silent stars like William S. Hart and Tom Mix to current stars like Clint Eastwood and John Wayne. John Wayne had donated much of his movie props and equipment to a special display, There was a painting and sculpture of Ben Johnson, a native Oklahomian and a true cowboy. He was a world champion rodeo cowboy, son of a rancher, stunt man and Academy Award winning actor. Although his name doesn't always come to mind when thinking about western stars, he represents authenticity of the cowboy.

Another impressive display was the 14,000 square foot replicated old western prairie town (indoors). It had most of the features one would expect: a hotel, cafe, doctor's office, sheriff’s office, and a stable and blacksmith shop.

The museum also housed the Rodeo Hall of Fame by the Rodeo Historical Society. There was a display of the championship belts, a mock arena, gallery of rodeo stars and the tools of the trade and of course, a framed list of the rodeo hall of fame inductee. Outside the museum there was memorial garden dedicated to a few horses and bulls of notoriety. A few of them were actually buried there on the grounds. Promenantly displayed in the garden was a large bronze statute of Buffalo Bill Cody. We ate lunch in the museum cafe before leaving.

We returned to the state park mid-afternoon and spent most of the time inside. The next door neighbor who was local and primarily a full time resident, told us that the state fair was in progress and that Wednesday was senior citizen day and the admission was free. We waited a bit the next morning to let the commuter traffic diminish before heading out.

It was not unlike most state fairs. There was at least two distinctly different things. One was the sales exhibits for storm shelters (tornados). I found them to be very interesting. Some above ground and some designed to be buried. If I lived in Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and several of the other states in Tornado Alley, I would without doubt, have one. The cost started around $3000 and went up to $8000 and above.

The other feature was the Wild West Showcase – Oklahoma Frontier Experience. It was a show that included horse acts (a cowgirl riding Roman style, a lady horse trainer that could get the horse to perform just with her hand gestures and a word or two, horse and wagon act and a Mexican Charros rope act on horse back) hoop dancers, bull whip performer, cloggers and a couple of comedy routines.

We found a bench in the shade next to a corral. At the end of the show, all the performers came out onto the stage for final introductions and to take their bows. When the two men with the mule and wagon act where introduced, the mules behind us in the corral whennied. Rhonda said she felt the mules were reacting to their handlers, either the mention of their names or the fact they could see them taking a bow. In the corral next to the two mules was a long horn steer that had horns that were about four feet long each.

Another impressive thing was the large number of 4-H youth exhibits and projects. It was enormous. It was extremely encouraging to see the effort put forth and there is interest in the things that represents 4-H.

After leaving the fair, we drove to Norman to have the oil changed in the truck. On the way, back to the park and campground, we drove by the campus of the University of Oklahoma, stopping along the way for a Wendy's Frosty.

The next day we headed back east on I-40. Originally, I wanted to drive all the way to Albuquerque, New Mexico and revisit Sante Fe and the areas north of there all the way up to the Four Corners and southern Utah and Colorado, but I was getting tired of driving and it was hot. I also wanted to ride a bike path in downtown Oklahoma City along the Oklahoma River Trail, but the oppressive heat would have made it a chore rather than fun.

I decided that I wanted us to experience some canoeing on the Buffalo River in Arkansas. I had read about the river in Outside magazine a number of years ago and it instilled in me the desire to experience some of it. I really would like to do a multi-day trip camping along the way. It was the first National River to designated in the US. It is slightly more than 150 miles long. It was established in 1972. It begins in the Boston mountains of Arkansas as rapids then to quiet pools while surrounded by massive bluffs as it flows southeast through the Osarks down to the White River.

We checked the road maps, Woodalls and the GPS to find camping along I-40. We found a Corps of Engineers campground just outside of Russellville in Dardenelle. We checked out the state park on the lake but the spaces the had left were near busy areas (near the boat ramp and dock), so we decided to go on down to the Old Post Road Park on the Arkansas River below the dam.

It was a very neat facility. The spaces they had available were all on the river and lacked much shade. We got our Golden Passport discount and paid only ten dollars. Since the sun was on our picnic table, we ate inside. The bathhouse was clean and modern; quite the contrast from the two previous evenings.

The next morning we were up before sunrise to head out to the outfitter near the river for a distance of 78 miles. We had arranged the evening before to move to a shadier site, so we hooked up and moved before we left the campground. The outfitter at Silver Hill opened at 9 am, so we went through the drive-thru at McDonald's and arrived at Silver Hill right at 9.

We chose the three to four hour trip from Tyler Bend to Gilbert. After making payment, I followed the van driver down to Gilbert where I left the truck. We had water and lunch and a coating of sunscreen as we headed down the river. We stopped for a break and later for lunch. The bluffs along the way were impressive and the main feature of the river.

We reached the take out point ahead of schedule as we usually do when we take these canoe trips. The outfitters must plan for a lot of stops for the paddlers. We pulled the canoe up on the shore on a big sandy beach and took a refreshing dip in the river. While we were in the water, my cell phone rang and I was surprised. For one, I did not realize I had it on and secondly, I did not think it would have a signal down on the river. The call was from Rhonda's brother giving us a report on their mother. We stopped at the outfitter on the way back to the campground and told them we were out and I bought a T-shirt.

On the way back down south on US 65 , we stopped at several yard sales and in Russellville, a Walmart, to get something fresh for supper.

Saturday, we planned to move to another Corp of Engineers park just outside of Little Rock so we could ride the 18 mile Arkansas River trail. Check in time in most places is after lunch, so we rode the bike around the area. We first made a couple of loops around a soccer field right next to the campground. The Saturday morning soccer activities were just getting started and by the time we finished our second lap, all the parking was full and people were jammed in everywhere they could find along the road that passed the park. On the other side of the park there was a dam and lock on the river, so we headed over to check it out. When we got in the area, we discovered that a very large regional cross-country high school track meet was about to get under way.

We stopped along the river to watch a large barge and tug approach and enter the lock. Apparently it made an error and had to back up. The Arkansas River begins up in Colorado near Leadville and goes all the way to the Mississippi. I remember crossing it back in 2008 when we were leaving Leadville heading to Cripple Creek, Colorado. It is the sixth longest river in the US and there is commercial navigation almost all the way up to Tulsa.

Before eleven, we made the camper ready for the move over to Little Rock and Pulaski County's Maumelle Park on Lake Murray. Even though it was Saturday and we didn't have reservations, they said when I called the evening before, that there would be sites available mainly because it had a large number of sites. Like most C of E campgrounds, it was very nice; good space between sites, plenty of shade, and a newer bathhouse.

After setting up and eating lunch, I pulled out a folding camp chair and adjusted the TV so I could see it from outside. It was too warm inside and the air conditioner is too noisy. Virginia Tech was playing Boston College at noon. There was a slight breeze was stirring under the awning and a small 10” fan also helped.

I cooked supper out on the picnic table. It included some potatoes I had gotten out of the garden just before we left. While I was cooking, the next door neighbor stopped to talk briefly. He and his wife were full time RVers. They had a huge motor home. He said his wife didn't cook much, so they were going out to eat. I think they were originally from Texas, because he said they end up in Houston once a year for his physical checkup.

After supper, I rode the bike around the park and up the road outside the park until it got too dark to loosen up for the ride the next day.

We were up and out early on Sunday morning to ride the Arkansas River Trail. The trail and the connectors together were over 21 miles long. It paralleled the river all the way downtown and backup the other side. Rhonda wasn't sure she wanted to ride that far, so she had a backup plan to make a turn around at a point she felt would be her halfway.

When doing a trail that goes into, beginning or ending in the downtown of a sizable city, Sunday is always the best day and early is the best time because of weekday business traffic and activity. We have used that strategy in Philadelphia, Portland, Orlando, and outside of Chicago.

As we exited the campground, we could see the street was blocked about 50 yards up with a number of emergency vehicles so we had to detour around it. As it turned out, our detour route was about eight or nine miles. From the campground, it was only three miles to where there was parking for the connector trail.

When we parked in Two Rivers park and headed out, the parking lot was filling up fast. I had to make an adjustment on my pedal strap, so Rhonda went on ahead. At the first trail junction, I made a wrong turn and ended up riding over a mile on the wrong trail. After another mile, I finally caught up with my riding companion off the other Two Rivers parking lot, which is the start of the ART (Arkansas River Trail).

As we made our way downtown, we passed several parks with soccer games preparing to start. It was ten miles from where we parked to the river crossing on the Clinton Bridge across from the Clinton Library. We had to ride eight or ten blocks on sidewalks and streets to the bridge. At one point there were no signs to indicate the route, so I kept a visual, when I could, on the old iron structure railroad bridge where we had to cross. On the other side, there were some trail and riverside improvements in progress relegating us to ride on the street and sidewalk a short distance, but soon we were back along the river on the trail, again passing several parks along the way.

Just before reaching the BDB (Big Dam Bridge), there was a modern covered rest area. I talked to two middle eastern men (maybe Indian or Pakistan) one of which, had a flat tire on his new high dollar bike. It came with a complete set of tool, but he had no clue how to use them. I tried to help, but the leak was right next to the valve stem and I was doubtful the patch would hold. We pumped it up after re-inserting the tube into the tire, but it was still leaking. Another fellow came along and offered them a spare tube but they decided to push the bike to the parking lot where one of them was parked.

At the rest stop was an air pump and tools (all attached to cables to prevent them from walking off). I had never seen this before. I later saw it again back at the Two River parking area. It is a nice feature for the trail planner to put along the trail. Rhonda had decided to go ahead after I started trying to help the two guys. The ramp to the bridge appeared to have a significant grade or incline, so she thought she might have to get off and push the bike. As it turned out, she just geared down, took her time and made the climb with no problems. It actually looked steeper than it was.

The Big Dam Bridge is a bike and pedestrian bridge over the Murray Lock and Dam. It was 90 feet above the water, fourteen feet wide and 4,226 feet long. It is the longest specially built bicycle and pedestrian bridge in the United States.

I caught up with her back at the Two Rivers bridge and we rode the final mile back to the truck. We enjoyed the trail so much, Rhonda never had thoughts of turning around early. Her usual ride distance is around twelve miles. When we came down the road to the campground, we saw the reason the emergency vehicles had the road blocked. A house had burned to the ground. We were surprised at the damage since the fire department was just up the road.

Back at the site we ate a light lunch, got ready to leave, and took a shower. Our objective for the day was to get beyond Memphis to avoid weekday traffic. It was 95 degrees as we approached the Mississippi River. We drove through a small rain shower just before and it cooled the temperature down briefly.

East of Memphis, we stopped for gas and a couple of discount burgers at McDonald's. The next stop was at the Parker's Crossroads RV Park. They were located near Yuma east of Jackson, Tennessee. They only had a few spaces available and we only needed one. I got a pull through up near the office. All the short term spaces were pretty close together. It appeared that most of the units in the park were long term. The Natchez Trace State Park, Pinoak Lake and the Tennessee River were the only features in the reasonable vicinity that would need a camping park.

The next day we took the bypass around Nashville, but I'm not sure I would take it again, because it went south all the way down to Murpheesboro. We at lunch at Arby's in Murpheesboro and checked out Northern Tool and Hobby Lobby and then we took back roads over to Crossville and stayed at Cumberland Mountain State Park.

The next morning, we tried to track down the phone number of a former pastor and his wife now living in Marysville south of Knoxville. We had their address, but did not want to go without calling, mainly to make sure there were home. We were unsuccessful in getting a number so we continued on home.

The End

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