Saturday 3 November 2007

Our First Day at Palo Duro Canyon & October Expenses

Our first day dawned cloudy, that wasn't in the plans! We decided since we had to go outside the park to get some groceries and fuel this morning was a good time. Thirteen miles away there's a little town called Canyon and it has a SuperWalmart and a grocery store as well as several fast food places including Taco Bell. Imagine! So off to Wally World we went and as usual I managed to part with a fair bit of my hard earned money.

The sun had started to come out by the time we were coming back so we stopped at several spots along the way into the park to take some photos. Our campground is actually 8 miles from the park entrance. Gordon took the photo below of me at the Visitor's Center.

Here are some more photos that I took around the park.

We got back to the campground well after 2 p.m. for a late lunch.

After lunch I got the October expenses put together as they have finally all come through on Visa. Note the expenses are in Canadian funds.

October Expenses

Campground - 673.01 - stayed at a couple of more expensive RV parks
Groceries/Wine/Spirits - 617.59 - did some stocking up on foods that we can't get in the U.S.
Laundry - 44.59
Entertainment/Parking/Restaurants - 204.26
Truck Fuel - 567.27
Propane - 14.88
Repairs RV/Truck - 0.00
Internet/TV/Cell/Insurance (Fixed Exp) - 360.18 - satellite TV went up in price
Medical/Dental - 30.77
Gifts & Misc - 1319.13 includes travel medical insurance for U.S.

Totals - $3831.68
Considering that we were traveling from October 25th onward I think this total came out very well. If we hadn't had the travel medical insurance to pay for our total would have been $2,797.73.

Gordon went out later in the afternoon so to see his photos go to Hopefully he'll have some up shortly. I stayed here and sat in my lawnchair and read and gazed at the red rocks.

Thursday 1 November 2007

We’re Here! We Made It!

After nearly 4 ½ hours of driving today we made it to Palo Duro Canyon arriving at about 1:45 p.m. It’s sunny and beautiful here with a light breeze and we’re backing on beautiful red rock cliffs. Here’s the view from our picture window. It's also the view from my lawnchair which is under the canopied area where the picnic table is located.

And here's our site:

The drive was uneventful and that's the kind of drive we like, we had no large cities to go through and although we had quite a climb as Amarillo is at a higher elevation most of the scenery was of flat land with scrubby type trees. We had a hazy sun for our drive here but here in the canyon the sun is bright. When we arrived the temperature at the rim was 63F (17C) but down in the canyon it was 68F (20C).

There was a large wind farm just west of the town of Weatherford, OK that I don’t think was there when we were through 2 years ago. I also noticed lots of OK State Park signs along I-40 so we just might have to come back to explore those. There was lots of red earth along the way and this is pretty much what the open road looked like on today’s trip. It also looks as if Texas is getting into the cotton growing crops.

We passed the town of Erich, OK which is the birthplace of Roger Miller. How many of you knew that? And how many cared?

We crossed into one of our favorite states, Texas at 11:23 a.m. and Gordon took my photo when we stopped at a picnic area for a break.

As we got closer to Amarillo the terrain changed to look more like this.

We're here!

And here's the first cactus we saw at the check in booth:

Here’s what the road looks like driving into the canyon. Gordon did an excellent job despite a pickup truck that was just ahead of us (not towing) that kept braking and slowing down and just generally being in our way.

Note the switch back and the descent into the canyon - it's a 10% downgrade over one mile

We’re here for a week (or more depending on the weather) and we have NO CELL PHONE SERVICE so if you want to reach us, it’s by email only.

Now at Lake El Reno RV Park, El Reno, OK

We left Joplin, MO at about 9:30 this morning. It was bright and sunny but cold at 46F (8C). We had to travel through Tulsa and Oklahoma City this time but we made the trip in about 4 hrs. 15 min. arriving at Lake El Reno RV Park (owned by the city of El Reno, OK) at 1:45 p.m.

By the way before we left the Joplin KOA I took a photo of their picnic tables. They look like half a picnic table actually but when it's folded up, it's a bench! Anyway, thought they were cute.

Gordon gets the credit for finding this campground. It's a nice little park on the lake but only has 30 amp service. The good news is that it's $10/night! Since I've been complaining about paying $34 & $36/night lately this is a welcome change. The bad news is that the dump station is way out of the way through the golf course at the other end of the park. We had to go to the Chamber of Commerce to find out where it was.

We could have gotten a site with a view of the lake from our back window but we had pulled into this spot and we were level so decided to stay here. Lucky we did as after we were set up there was a kid screaming from the area we had looked at. We have a nice view from our living room side window though.

When we got here I called Palo Duro Canyon and was assured that they weren't that busy and we could get a site for a week probably in the Mesquite campground. They don't reserve a particular site for you, just assure you of a site somewhere in the park. We're due to arrive there tomorrow. YEAH! I'm so looking forward to being there. Hope I'm not disappointed!

After we got set up we took a drive into town and Gordon got some photos of the grain elevators. He has this fixation for grain elevators for some reason. There's not a lot to see in the town but it does date back to 1829 so it was kind of interesting for anyone who likes history (not moi).

Wednesday 31 October 2007

Posting from Joplin, MO

For the last few days I have had a sore shoulder which is gradually making my neck hurt as well. Last night it was so bad I could hardly reach up to open the vent in the bathroom. So I took a muscle relaxant knowing that it was going to make me sleep last night and make me groggy most of the day but it was too painful not to do it. I also got out the Ben Gay. The joys of getting older! The plan for yesterday when we arrived here in Joplin was to get groceries, go to Kansas and get the laundry done. Everything got done except the laundry.

This morning the shoulder was a bit better but we decided to stay here another day as Gordon wanted a day to relax as well. I walked around the park this morning and as I approached the pond I saw two Canada geese and these white ducks. Most were just regular ducks but there were a couple of pure white Muscovy ducks. They all came waddling as I approached them.

I napped for a while and got the laundry done this afternoon while Gordon went out to see the Grand Falls and the Wildcat Glades Conservation & Audubon Center.

Later this afternoon I went out with some bread and fed them but just as I was feeding them, two of the ladies from the campground came by with their daily ration of corn and they took off for the corn instead of my bread. Fickle!

Here they come for my bread

There they go for the corn!

Tonight will just be relaxing so we can get back on the road tomorrow.

Happy Hallowe'en everyone!

P.S. - Monthly expenses will be late each month when we're in the U.S. as I'll be posting everything in Canadian dollars since we're using Canadian credit cards this year so I have to wait for things to go through the credit card company to get the actual dollar values.

Tuesday 30 October 2007

We Drove Across the State of Missouri Today

The bridge across the Mississippi at St. Louis on the way west

Here's the Mississippi with the Gateway Arch and downtown St. Louis in the background

We left Casino Queen RV Park at about 9:11 a.m. under bright sunny skies I hadn't remembered Missouri as being so hilly. I was thinking all we would see today was corn fields. Boy was I wrong. We were also driving into the wind although it wasn't a very windy day so our mileage wasn't as good as it has been. We stopped near Springfield, MO for fuel. Originally we had thought we could make the whole trip on one tank however with the terrain and the wind we thought we'd better fill up.

I had called ahead to the Joplin, MO KOA and was told there were lots of sites. We got here about 2:45 p.m. and were setup by 3:50 p.m. We elected not to set up the TV as we can get all the major stations with the aerial. We'll be heading Oklahoma City way tomorrow so the less we have to do to get back on the road the better.

Here's our site at the Joplin KOA, Joplin, MO

Joplin appears to be a nice small city of about 45,000 people. The campground is a typical KOA, gravel sites but has FHU and 50 amp. It was also nice and warm when we arrived and about 70F (21C) so we had the door open for a bit. The inside temperature of the RV rose quickly without benefit of heater or furnace after we got parked from 65F (18C) to 70F (21C) in about 30 minutes.

Once we got set up although tired we headed out to get some groceries at the local SuperWalmart as there are some staples that I'm out of. We are 4 miles from the Oklahoma border at this campground and not far from the Kansas border either so we drove the 10 miles to the little town of Galena in Kansas and took some photos to say we've been there. But "we're not in Kansas any more Toto" (LOL). While we were out we had dinner at Taco Bell. Yeah! I didn't have to cook!

Here are two photos of proof that we were in Kansas

Monday 29 October 2007

Our Day in St. Louis

The park that is part of the Gateway Arch National Memorial

Gateway Arch in the reflecting pool

Gateway Arch at sunset taken from the Eads Bridge

It appears that to get from this campground in East St. Louis to the interstate that we want to take us to our next stop has only one entrance which is closed. There is no detour sign, no idea of an alternate route, the sign just says 'seek alternate route'. OK, we don't know the area so what do we do now? Lucky for us we decided to check this out today instead of waiting till tomorrow when we're towing. It's something we've tried to do more and more lately in big cities, check the route out first! So what we've decided to do is go back the way we came about 10 miles to get to the bypass and take that to I-44. It's sort of a convoluted way of getting there but there's less traffic and we won't have to tow through the major part of the city.

We started out going northwest to the first exit and trying to turn around to go southeast but there was no entrance ramp. Another thing we've found more and more of lately - in Buffalo, NY, and Columbus, OH. They don't make it easy for people who don't know the city to get around!

Enough of the big city rant. This morning Gordon walked over to downtown St. Louis, walked around taking photos and went up in the Gateway Arch. He took some beautiful photos!

This afternoon we went in search or propane and also to find out way out of here which brought on the above rant. I also tried to find a grocery store but all I found was a Save A Lot and they didn't have anything that I had on my list so I'm leaving it till we get to Joplin, MO tomorrow.

Late this afternoon we set out to go to the Gateway Arch again. We had Security pick us up and drive us to the train station (a benefit of staying at this park), then we walked from the train station, across the Mississippi River on the Eads Bridge and over to the Arch. It is a 630 foot work of art! There is also a park with a reflecting pool that is part of the Gateway Arch National Memorial. We walked through the park taking lots of photos and went into the entrance and through the Museum of Westward Expansion and the shops. It was very close to closing so we weren't inside all that long. We then walked back across the Mississippi River and back to the RV Park. So I got to walk from Illinois to Missouri and back again across the Mississippi River. It was quite a walk and my back is telling me about it!

Sunday 28 October 2007

We Made it to St. Louis!

Our site at Casino Queen RV Park

The St. Louis Skyline from the RV Park

I was up at 6:15 this morning as we wanted to get an early start. We left Columbus just after 8:00 a.m. under bright sunny skies but 34F ( 1C). It was a long day and we’re very glad that we chose Sunday to leave due to construction and traffic. No construction work was being done and traffic for the most part was fairly light. We had sunny skies for the entire eight hour trip with some brief foggy conditions just after leaving Alton RV Park.

We arrived at Casino Queen RV Park in East St. Louis at around 4:00 p.m. and had trouble checking in as their computer didn’t recognize our postal code and all she could come up with was Quebec for our address. I told her that was okay as long as we didn’t have to live there. So were set up except for the internet by 5:45 p.m. The internet system was having a problem with the cross poll. He finally got it to work by doing something to bypass the cross poll. Sure am glad he knows what he’s doing! I guess the final diagnosis was a bad ethernet cable.

You can indeed see the downtown skyline from the park however there is a big chain link fence in the way so maybe if we stood on the roof of the truck we could get an unimpeded view, however that’s not going to happen tonight.

I was going to get the laundry done when I got here but they only have two washers and two dryers and it would take me forever to get it done so maybe tomorrow (and maybe not)!

By the way, we're now in the Central time zone so we actually arrived at 3:00 p.m. Central time.

As tired as Gordon is from eight hours of driving, he went out tonight to get nighttime photos of the skyline at the Casino. I declined.