Unencumbered with family issues and the occasional drama, it's time to head out on our first big official travel. Time to head to Texas for the month of January, New Mexico for the month of February, and Arizona for the month of March. The early part of the trip has some scheduled stops to visit friends, but beginning the second week we're back to winging it. No reservations; no plans. Just travel and take in the sights.
But first we have to get to Texas; a great state with lots to see and do, and one where Barbara and I have limited past experience. Back in the 1950's, Cunard Cruise Lines had an ad campaign with the tag line “Getting there is half the fun”! This post will show you the “other” side of RV-ing; the part that most people won't tell you about.
We'd already heard about the legendary poor condition of I-10 going through the southerly route to Texas, and fortunately our initial travel to Dallas means we get to enjoy I-20 across Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi before we get to Texas. They'll be no sightseeing on this initial leg of our journey, as we have reservations in the Lake Lewisville area north of Dallas for three nights to visit with Rhonda and Allen Lea, former co-workers of mine during my time with Xerox.
In keeping with the 330 rule of leisurely Rv-ing, we try to look ahead to about a 5-6 hour drive each of the three days it will take us to get to Dallas. This will mean we drive about 330 miles per day, and try to arrive by 3:30 in the afternoon at our campsite for the evening.
The one observation I'll have about this dash to Dallas is the elevation. We've been used to hills and mountains living in North Georgia for the past 28 years, and there are a LOT of elevation changes to be had in Georgia.
Not so on this trip. It's flat. Really, really flat. Good for gas mileage, but nothing much for the scenic side of the trip.
Since this is a speed run to Dallas, we're not interested in any amenities in our campgrounds, so price becomes more important. Enter Passport America. We joined them for their 50% off campground fees that take the program; very important for the one or two night stays we'll need when heading from one place to another. Generally, they are older parks, limited in creature comforts. Usually just a pad and hookups for the RV, but a cheap way to get from Point A to Point B for under $20 per night. They also tend to have more pull-thru sites available for folks like us who are just passing through; enabling us to keep the tow dolly and Mini hooked up to save us time and effort.
Leaving our comfy spot in Cleveland, GA at Leisure Acres RV Campground (and leaving our duck friends to fend for themselves), we travel at a sedate 62 MPH on cruise control west through Georgia and Alabama, stopping at Benchmark RV Park in Meridian MS just over the border from Alabama. It consists of basically a couple of loop roads in order to facilitate the large number of pull-thru sites they offer. Cement pads separated with narrow grass that holds the hookups. The ONLY amenity is a “dog park”, which is a chain link fence where dogs can leave their droppings when owners refuse to pick them up, and a propane filling station. Power is sufficient for our RV using 50 AMP service, but there is a strict NO SPACE HEATERS warning in the office, leaving me to believe that the grid is a bit taxed due to age. But it's a short drive off of I-20, so at $20 for the night, it will do.
Since we have a shorter than usual trek the next day, we leave around 10:00 AM in a heavy rain. I'm glad that our destination is less than 300 miles away, because we have to drop down to between 50-55 MPH due to the varying nature of the rain, alternating between a heavy mist and a heavy downpour. Crossing the Mississippi River is always a thrill. The “Big Muddy” was not as wide as it would be closer to New Orleans, but it is still impressive, especially covered in a morning mist. We arrive at our next overnight stop in West Monroe, Louisiana. The rate is even better at $17 for the night, and that's a good thing. It's a park loaded with full-time residents; normally not the worst thing, but unfortunately full-time residents tend to ignore the rules that are written for the rest of us. Therefore, our site bordered a number of spots where people had more than one vehicle parked, making it difficult to maneuver our way out of the spot in the morning. We also heard constantly barking dogs all night long (another rule violation) in at least 2 sites. Frankly, we were happy to depart for Texas then next morning.
The interesting thing about Texas and I-20 is the condition of the interstate. Very, very good. It's in stark contrast with the local roads we encountered in and around the Frisco, TX area north of Dallas where we stayed for 3 days. Very, very poor.
Fortunately, the park we stayed in, as well as the company we enjoyed with good friends, made up for all the poor local roads.
We'll be spending 3 nights in Hidden Cove Marina and RV Park on Lake Lewisville. Beautiful concrete padded site on a spacious level lot within sight of the lake. A bit pricey at $60 a night, but in better weather worth the price when you can enjoy more of the park and it's amenities. But there's not a lot of RV parks in that area, so choices are limited.
Our dash to Texas completed, it's time to enjoy some Texas food and friends. But that's for another post. Stay tuned!
We're Dave and Barbara Richard, and we're planning the ultimate retirement experience - travel the U.S. and Canada in style in a Tiffin Open Road 36LA Class A motor home, play golf and stop at every weird and wacky roadside attraction we can find.