Travels with Bentley

Travels with Bentley
Bentley - our Heartland Bighorn

Friday, March 11, 2016

Wednesday/Thursday, March 9-10, 2016 - Pelham, AL to Cottondale, FL

Wednesday, March 9, 2016 - Pelham, AL to Cottondale, FL

We both woke up shortly after 4 this morning and couldn't go back to sleep.  We finally got up about 5.  We had our coffee and then walked a little over 2 miles, came back and ate breakfast, packed up and headed south to Florida.

Another shot of the pond/lake here at the campground on our morning walk.
We had hoped to stay at Florida Caverns State Park but when I called them they only had one spot left and it was a first come, first serve.  I started looking for another park and ran across a new park on Passport America's website.  Campgrounds that sign up with Passport America offer their sites for 1/2 price.

The drive down was pretty nice with many of the trees blooming.  Today we saw lots of red bud trees. The grass along the highway was so green and tall enough you could see it swaying with the wind. Many of their trees are leafing out enough you can begin to see a faint green outline on the branches. As we neared southern Alabama we begin to see the palm trees.  It seemed like no time and we were entering Florida.

I love watching our nation's flag flying in the breeze.  

The campground we chose was The Hitchin' Post Corral and RV Campground.  I assumed it must have stables for folks traveling with horses, however we did not see any.  It did have a rustic, farm like style as you entered, so maybe that is the idea behind the name.  The couple purchased the land a few years ago and have been working diligently to build a new facility.  They have 24 spots with 60 amp elec,, water and sewer hook-ups.  There are a few spots up front that are back in near some tall pine trees, with most of the sites are at the back of the property and those are all pull-through.  I-10 is along the backside and for some folks it might be loud.  Since we lived on the highway for many years where the entrance to town was not to far from our home we are pretty used to road noise and it really doesn't bother us much even with the windows open.  It's actually quieter here than it was at the house because semi's are not slowing down as they entered the city limits.

Right now the sites at the campground are sand, but they plan to gravel them and plant vegetation between each site in the future.  While it's apparent they have done a lot of work and it is nice, I think it will be a beautiful place once they can complete their work.  They were very nice people and extremely helpful. They have only been open about a month.  They provide free wi-fi which is a big plus for me.  It helps us save our Verizon hot spot for when we really need it.

We will spend two nights here.  We had no idea we would be so close to Panama City Beach, and so tomorrow we are going to head to the beach for awhile.  We plan to go early in the morning before it gets too hot and then I want to spend sometime cleaning the trailer and maybe doing some laundry before we move to the campground in Tallahassee for the next 9 days.

We finally got around to eating the leftover BBQ from Marlowe's with a loaded baked potato.  It was really good, easy and little clean-up.  My kind of meal, especially on a travel day!

Hopefully we'll have more to share after tomorrow's outing.

Thursday, March 10, 2016 - Cottondale, FL (Side trip to Panama City Beach, FL)

This morning we walked a little over 2 miles before having breakfast and getting ready to head to the beach.  The wind was picking up here before we left.  It's about 50-55 miles to Panama City Beach. We found a large parking area near a pier and parked.  We thought it would be fun to walk out on the pier to watch the waves, which were quite large today as the wind had picked up considerably.  However, we soon found out it cost per person just to walk out on the pier.  We could have paid the fee but we've been on a number of piers so it wasn't that important to us.  Instead we walked down the ramp to the beach and walked along the shore for quite awhile.

Here are several pictures I took while at the beach

For my friend Carolyn, who collects pictures where family and friends write her name in the beach noting where it was taken.

The blurry area on the shore in the distance is the sand blowing from the beach due to the wind conditions.

The pier

Looking back to the east, the sand is blowing even more here.

Taken from the parking lot area.

We wanted to have lunch at a restaurant on the beach.  I googled best beachfront restaurants in Panama City Beach.  After reading through several of them, Hook'd Pier Bar & Grill caught my attention from all of the posts raving about their fish tacos.  I fell in love with fish tacos several years ago when I tried them at Crabby's in Joplin.  Well, the raves about this place were all true.  I wish I would have remembered to take a picture.  I had two tacos, chips and salsa and cole slaw.  Each taco had a huge piece of fried fish in the shell along with an amazing mango salsa topping.  I'm not sure what the breading on the fish was but it was the best I've ever tasted.  Dean had fried fish, fries, cole slaw and hushpuppies.  He was very happy with his meal as well.  The picture below is our view from our table.  The second picture is a plane pulling a sign that says, Strong Rip Currents, Stay on Shore.  The third is a picture of the restaurant.

These are random pictures I snapped with my phone as we drove back.  I thought they came out pretty good since I just pointed and snapped repeatedly.  If any of you are Seinfield fans, you might remember this saying, "The sea was angry that day my friend".  That's what the water reminded me of as we watched it.

Once we left the beach we made a couple of stops - to get a few groceries and Dean wanted to purchase a folding step stool he could stand on to reach into the back of the pickup when unhooking the trailer.
When we got back we rested for a bit, then walked another couple of miles before I made dinner.  We decided to try something different with pizza making.  I made it in the cast iron skillet and Dean cooked it on our grill.  He had to cook it about twice as long, 30 minutes rather than 15, but it was perfectly cooked for us.  A perfect crispy and nicely browned crust, with perfectly cooked cheese on top.  Very delicious!

Tomorrow we move on to Tallahassee.  We'll park with hookups at the North Florida Campgrounds Friday and Saturday.  On Sunday we'll move a short distance to the site of the RV-Dreams boondocking rally.  We are looking forward to the rally but a little apprehensive about how it will go without any electric hookups.

See you soon!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Tuesday, March 8, 2016 - Memphis, TN to Pelham, AL

Tuesday, March 8, 2016 - Pelham, AL

After our coffee this morning, we walked 2.5 miles.  It was so nice out this morning.  I started with a sweatshirt on, but we had to stop so I could shed it for just a short sleeve t-shirt.  We visited with our neighbor Art this morning (we visited with his wife yesterday - the couple from Carthage).  They are a really nice couple.

Once we finished our walk and talk, we had breakfast, packed up and was on the road about 10.  We had to stop so Dean could empty the gray water tanks before we head on to Pelham, Alabama.

It was a beautiful day out and I had to snap a few pictures along the way.

click on this to enlarge it.  It was just pretty scenery.

The skies were beautiful.

Not too far out of Pelham, we saw this large cross on the hilltop behind a church.  It was so beautiful.

you may need to click to enlarge to really see the cross well.
When we arrived at Oak Mountain State Park there was a line of RV's waiting to check in - a first for us.  Must be a popular place!  We were shocked at the number of campsites that were full.  With the number of children we think it could be spring break for some schools in the area.  It's a beautiful area with a gorgeous golf course, archery range, bicycling lanes and trails, hiking trails, and sits alongside a body of water.  I'm not sure if it is a lake or large pond and we did not get any brochure when we checked in.
our campsite at Oak Mountain State Park

This is the body of water.  If you enlarge the picture you can see the two ducks swimming.
Once we got set up, we walked about 1.5 miles, then we drove back into town to get fuel and eat dinner.  We had Mexican tonight.  It was okay, not the best and not the worst we've ever had.

We came back, and the TV came on.  Dean watched it while I uploaded the pictures for yesterday and got it posted.  So tomorrow you will get 3 days of our travels in your email.  We are having a great time.  The weather could not be any nicer.

We originally had planned to travel into Tallahassee, FL tomorrow but we have decided to go as far as Dothan, AL, stay the night and make the last 100 miles or so on Thursday.  Over 300 miles in one day is just more than we want to do and we seem to be well ahead of the storms.  In fact as of this morning they are not calling for too much rain while we are at the rally, compared to what was predicted at this time last week.

Hopefully we'll have more to share from our Wednesday travels.

Sunday & Monday, March 6 & 7, 2016 - Memphis, TN

Sunday, March 6, 2016 – Ozark, MO to Memphis, TN

We woke up around 5 am.  Although we tried to go back to sleep we finally gave up and Dean went to make coffee about 5:45.   We drank our coffee, watched a little TV and I read a few blogs and devotionals, then we decided to get in a little exercise before breakfast and walked about 1.5 miles.  We are trying to get back to regular exercise now that the weather is warming up.  It was 59 when we started our walk.  It wasn’t too bad despite the fact we were near the water where it felt a little cooler with the breeze.  This morning we walked to the campground east of us that is on the back side of the dam.  They have built a nice metal and wooden bridge that you can take down toward the water.  Earlier this year Arkansas had severe rains and they now have a sand beach running in a large ravine just south of the dam.  The lady working in the campground office told us the sand was washed here from Oklahoma during the flooding. 

Here are a few pictures of the area.

Once we returned to Bentley, we ate breakfast, packed up, hooked up the truck and we left Ozark around 10:00.  We had a good drive to Memphis taking I-40 all the way, arriving at 3:30! We left the Boston mountains behind and begin to notice a change in the landscape with more farmland beginning to show up as we moved further east. 

We maneuvered around Little Rock, AR with no problem, and we didn’t have to veer too far in to Memphis before we were able to take an exit that quickly led to our campground for the next two nights.  We will be staying at T O Fuller State Park.  I have to add this picture where we were on the bridge crossing the Mississippi River, as the train passed us.  This is for our grandson Jaxson who loves trains.  

We actually had a reservation at this campground for Wednesday and Thursday of this week.  I called yesterday morning but had to leave a message asking if we could just apply our previous reservation to the change.  I asked them to call me if there was any problem, otherwise we would arrive on Sunday afternoon.  We never heard anything so we were hoping that was a good sign.  Upon reaching the park area we soon discovered a sign leading us to the visitor center where we were to register.  However, it was closed.  We backtracked to the campground where we found a sign saying to find a site that was not reserved, park and someone would be around to collect our payment.  We drove the entire loop looking it over and decided on Site #38, that was located in the first section of the campground.  About that time, I noticed someone in a little gator was following behind us.  Dean stopped and walked back to see if he was indeed following us.  He was, turns out it was the camp host.  We explained our situation about arriving earlier than the reservation we made.  He radioed the park ranger and soon had our previous reservation transferred to this site and we were good to go. 

Dean got things set up and checked to see if we would be able to get a signal from Dish.  Even though our site has a few trees it is still pretty open and he was able to pick up the signal and most importantly, the Golf Channel.  That made him happy.  After taking a bit of a rest we walked about 2 miles around the park.  It’s not as nice as the COE (Corps of Engineers) Park we were in yesterday but we like it just fine.  We have water and electric hookups.  There is a nice bathhouse just up the road from us, with a small laundry.  At $10 a night we think it’s a pretty good deal.  The campsite was level and we were set up in no time. 

The park itself is quite large with a total of 1138 acres, located in the southern limits of the city of Memphis.  It was the first state park to open for African Americans east of the Mississippi River.  The initial park facilities were constructed by Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).  During excavation for a proposed swimming pool in 1940, CCC workers unearthed evidence of a prehistoric village, opening the door to a lost and forgotten civilization.  It has since been developed as Chucalissa Indian Village.  I hope we make it back here again someday as we would love to visit it.

Dean is grilling chicken tenders for dinner tonight.  I’ll use those to make a grilled chicken salad with avocadoes, cranberries, almonds, and parmesan cheese.  Yummy!

Unfortunately, while we do have a slight phone signal here I am unable to get a strong enough internet signal with my hotspot to connect the computer. 

Monday, March 7, 2016 – Memphis, TN

After having our coffee this morning, we walked here in the campground a total of 2 miles.  After showers, picking things up around here and eating breakfast we headed to Wal-mart to pick up a couple of things we needed and to find a post office in order to mail a couple of things I didn’t get done before we left town.  We brought the groceries back and had some lunch.

While we were having lunch, a motorhome pulled in next to us.  As we were leaving, the husband was unhooking their car, and as his wife started to drive from the back of their motorhome around to the front, she noticed our tag and said to Dean, hey I guess we are neighbors.  She had noticed our Kansas tags and they are from Missouri.  Better yet, they are from Carthage, MO.  What a small world.  She and her husband are recently retired.  They travel about seven months out of the year.  They have been in Florida and are heading home.   We really enjoyed visiting with her. 

Once we finished our visit we headed to Elvis Presley Boulevard for a visit to Graceland.  Oh I love me some Elvis!  Just makes me happy hearing him sing and that is what we heard for the next 3 to 3.5 hours.  There is no doubt he had one of the greatest voices ever!  We walked quite a bit, Dean said his feet hurt when we were done.  Our tour included the Graceland Mansion, Automobile Museum, I Shot Elvis Photography Exhibit, Graceland Archives Experience, Lisa Marie & Hound Dog II Jets, Elvis’ Tupelo, Elvis’ Hawaii:  Concerts, Movies & More Exhibit and many, many, many shops filled with Elvis memorabilia.  I managed to not buy a thing!

I took many, many pictures and will share several of them once we can get a good enough signal to upload them, and here are just a few of the many I took.
Sitting Room, with Music room beyond.

Elvis' parents room.


Notice the harvest gold refrigerator.

Media Room

Pool room.  The walls and ceiling are all covered in fabric.

The famous Jungle Room.

Jungle Room

Back of house

Stables and horse pasture.

Mediation Garden

Graves of Elvis, his parents, and his grandmother.


The pink cadillac.


Me and Elvis!  

After completing our tour, we asked one of the guides for a recommendation on some good BBQ.  She told us her favorite place is Marlowe’s and it was just down the street so that’s where we headed.  It was shortly before 5:00 and not yet busy.  Dean ordered ½ rack of BBQ ribs, mac & cheese and cole slaw.  I ordered the 2 smoked meat dinner with brisket and pulled pork, fried okra and fried corn fritters.  It was all really good, however I prefer Texas brisket over this Memphis version.  It was dryer but had very good flavor.   We had quite a bit of food left over, so guess what’s for dinner tomorrow night?

Adjoining Room.  Notice all the Elvis memorabilia.
Can you believe all this food?

As I mentioned we are trying to walk every day and I’ve been trying to hit at least 10,000 steps each day.  So far I haven’t done very well until this week.  Saturday we only lacked a couple hundred steps of hitting my goal, and we hit it both yesterday and today.  Hopefully we walked enough to burn up the calories from our dinner.

We will be moving on in the morning.  Hopefully we’ll have something interesting to share in our next post.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Saturday, March 5, 2016 - Ozark, MO

Saturday, March 5, 2016 - Owego, KS to Ozark, MO

Yesterday (Friday, March 4) Dean and I had to go to Joplin to run several errands at various places. While enroute I was looking at the weather channel app on my phone and discovered there is the potential for some pretty severe storms from Texas and to the north into Kansas that will move across the midwest towards the east coast with rains beginning in Kansas and a large area to the south and east on Tuesday.  Tuesday is the day we planned to leave on our adventure in Florida.  We talked about it some.  After we got home Dean got online to take a closer look.  We decided maybe we should head out early (as in tomorrow) and try to beat the rain.  We don't mind driving in the rain, but with severe storms and the possibility of tornadoes, we'd rather get there and be parked if that type of weather does materialize.  If there are weather alerts where we camp, we always check to see what shelter is available.  We will not hesitate to head out if something like this would occur.

So with that being said, you can imagine how our Friday evening was spent - packing Bentely, doing laundry, gathering up last minutes items and checking and re-checking our lists to be sure we had everything packed or ready to be packed this morning.

One of the things we had hoped to do before we left was make some bean bags to go with our bean bag baseball game we are taking with us to the RV-Dreams Rally that we are attending in Florida. Dean made the baseball box a few years ago.  When we used it at our house, Jarred brought some bean bags to the house with another game he had, and we never did get any purchased or made.  I was talking to my sister Crystal this afternoon and mentioned it.  She said I don't have anything planned for this evening, do you want me to bring my machine down and we can make them.  What a sister!  While she set things up, I cut the material and as she sewed the sides of each bean bag, Dean turned them right side out and filled them with beans.  I turned the ends in so Crystal could sew up the opening, and in no time we had all four of them made.

Here's Crystal in action!
After taking numerous loads of food, clothes, shoes, etc. to Bentley and throwing some clothes in the washer I had to leave a little after 7 to drive across the highway to my hairdresser for a quick haircut before we take out.  I was originally scheduled for tomorrow at 11:30.  I called Marla to see if there was any chance I could get in earlier, and she had me come in after her last customer this evening.  I really appreciated her doing that!  Thanks Marla!  You are the best!

I was up shortly after 5 this morning and Dean soon followed.  After our coffee and breakfast we were on the move, gathering up last minute items, packing, checking and double-checking and running a few errands.  We pulled out of Oswego a little after 10 a.m.

Our first overnight stop will be Ozark, MO.  We headed south on US Highway 59 to Chetopa, then east on US166, US400 and onto I-44 near Baxter Springs, KS.  A few miles east of Joplin, we took I-49 South to Alma, Ar and then headed east on I-40 to Ozark.  It was a beautiful drive through the Boston Mountains.

Spring is arriving here in Arkansas with many small trees budding out.  I caught a picture of this tree in full bloom.

We arrived in Ozark around 2 and checked in at Aux Arc COE Campground. Here's the bridge that crossed over Ozark Lake.

Interestingly enough, Ozark Lake is just downstream from Lake Dardanelle, where we stayed two years ago on our first voyage in Bentley while traveling to Texas for the birth of our grandson Joshua. We are parked on the south side of the lake near the dam and on the north side is a lock to allow barges to pass through the dam area, on the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System.  This is the same navigation system that begins at Catoosa, OK and travels to the Mississippi River.  There was one barge in the lock waiting to exit and another one waiting along the north bank to enter the locks.

We took a walk of about 1.5 miles through our campground and the two campgrounds west of us.

View from our campsite.

Here is the barge waiting to enter the lock.

View of downtown from the campgrounds.

Since we only had an almond bar and a bottle of water during our drive here, we were famished by the time we finished walking.  As we were starting our walk, our neighbor across the street was walking out to their truck.  We visited with her and her husband some about the area.  We also inquired where the best place to eat was.  They recommended Riverside BBQ and Southern Grille. They told us while they had not tried the Southern Grille they had heard very good things about it. We loaded up and went searching for these two places.  We could not find the BBQ but we tried Southern Grille.  It was very good.

Dean waiting patiently for his dinner.
Loved the 50's style decor of this diner.
As we were driving down their main street searching for the restaurants I saw a few things I thought worthy of pictures.  I loved how they had these turning lanes at each of the corners on this particular block.  Each island showcased a planter that separated the turning lane to the right.

They had numerous antique stores and this one was really unique on the outside.  If we had more time we would visit one or two.

Our dinners arrived pretty quickly.  I had grilled chicken with jalapenos, baked potato and fried okra. Dean had smoked sausage with fried potatoes and fried okra.  The meals also came with a dinner roll. They were both very good.

It was a beautiful day here in the 70's when we arrived.  By the time we returned the temperatures had dropped enough that it was too cool to sit outside.  I wanted to work on the blog before we went to bed and since I have several pictures to upload it will take awhile.

As we are entering our campground.

Our campsite.
Although it was pretty hectic this morning, it turned out to be a beautiful day for traveling.  Check back to see where we stop tomorrow.