Friday, May 31, 2013

Enjoying Zion Life

Zion National Park, Utah

37 12.207 N 112 58.893 W, 3942 feet altitude


This place is magical. So many others have depicted Zion in words and pictures, that I won't try to beat them.

This morning we started early in the cool before the strong strong sun came over the canyon walls. We visited weeping rock where water seps out from the rock walls and where natural hanging gardens wow those who look up.

Then we went to the river walk trail at the head of the canyon. This is the most famous place in Zion. It was great. We walked the paved trail one mile to the end. Then, we intended to continue upstream wading in the water. We both had crocs shoes suitable for wading. Poor Libby though, she got only ankle deep when she asked to beg off. We went back to the trail and looked at her feet. They were blue as smurfs! Her core temperature was way down also. Our ambitions are younger than our bodies.

Quickly, I got Libby back to the river bend spot. The warm sun was shining there. I also dressed her in my warm shirt and added my sox to here's, put hope her jacket, and sat her down on a rock heated by the sun. She protested that it wasn't needed, but when she stood up, the rock was cold.

We both envied the younger tourists. They could wade up the ice cld river to the narrow end. They could and did hike up the trails to the canyon rim and peer down at us from 2000 feet above. Getting old sucks in many respects.

We have another 1.5 daya to go at Zion. I'll make sure that we do our activities when it's not so cold.

By the way, I figures out that the cliff face right behind our tent is 3000 feet (1000 m) high.


The morning sun first touched the peak behind us. Note the moon above the peak.

Neighbors in our camp site. They are completely tame. Another neighbor, a ground squirrel, jumped up and ate our bread when we turned our backs of just a minute.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Sunset to Jacob a lake

Jacob Lake Campground, Arizona

36 43.012 N 112 12.841 W


Route 89 from Sunset Crater north to Page has amazing scenery. It parallels a rift where numerous thrust faults trusted the thick Colorado plate to the NE upwards. To the SE is the thin pacific plate. All along the fault line, magma and heat have penetrated. We took many photographs, but probably none of them will depict the beauty. By the way, a landslide blocked to route to Page, but we were able to use alt 89 to drive to Jacobs Lake.

We drove though Marble Canyon, spectacular. I've never been there before. Midway through the canyon we cross the Colorado River over a bib bridge spanning the gorge. The green waters of the Colorado were beautiful.

The camp site at Jacob Lake was a bit of disappointment. It lacked the colors and the beauty of the desert. Nothing but ponderosa pines in all directions. It was also at 8000 feet and the wind was blowing a gale. It was plenty cold. We went to bed at 1830 just to escape the cold. By 0500 this morning, the wind had stopped and it was nice.

Onward to Zion. On the way is a viewpoint with a breathtaking view of the valley below and The Escalante Staircase behind it. We could see more than 100 miles west, 100 miles east and 50 miles north. There is surely no,pale on the east coast with such a view.

Tomorrow I'll blog snout Zion.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Sunset Delights

Sunset Crater Volcano, Arizona


We had a great day just poking around within a 10 mile radius. Sunset Crater is beautiful. The San Francisco Mountains are to our east and The Painted Desert in the West.

We had a picnic lunch in The Painted Desert, then we hiked the lava trail. That is the same trail Dave and I hiked a few years ago. Libby was fascinated at the dramatic nature we encountered at every step.

Tonight, we will try for Jacob Lake Cmpground, north of The Grand Canyon. (Both of us have seen Grand Canyon before, so we'll avoid the crowds. ).


The picture shows The San Francisco Mountains. Aren't they beautiful with the snow on top? The meadow is at 7000 feet and the peaks at 12000 feet. Compare that to Mount Mansfield seen from Vermont. The lake is at 100 feet and the peak at 5000 feet.

Actually those mountains are the ring around a caldera. Visualize a single 20000 foot cone originally, which then collapsed Mount Saint Helen's style. Wow, what an event. There are two other calderas near by. What a fantastic place!


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Sunset Crater

Sunset Crater Volcano, Arizona

35 22.329 N 111 34.363 W

We had a wonderful visit with John and Mary Ann. Thank you very much.

On Sunday we took a side trip to Payson. We remembered it from 25 years ago, when we drove through there on a quiet country road and found a quaint village. This time, the road had become a four lane divided highway and the village is an affluent retirement community. TOO MANY PEOPLE ON THIS PLANET.

We looked harder though and found the village of Gisela, population 500. Those 500 people have a huge and beautiful valley all to themselves. There is no through highway. We sought some Indian ruins, but we never did find them. What we did find was a clear creek a d swimming holes. The holes were full with squealing children having fun. The surroundings were also full of older children playing with their all terrain vehicles. It was a bit of Arizona culture that most tourists never see.

Last night and tonight we are staying in a camp site at the bad of the Sunset Crater Volcano. We walk on cinders and we are surrounded by collapsed lava tubes. It is a magical world. We had other plans for today, but I think we'll just explore this area instead.

The altitude here is 7200 feet, so the climate is cool and comfortable.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Recent Pictures

Sagauro Cactus Forest, Mohave Desert
Wild Burros In Our Camp Site
Girls have fun on the flight deck of USS Midway in San Diego
My Friend Walt With His New Truck
A Particularly Beautiful Pine Cone, Mount Laguna, California
In Jerome, Arizona
The Mountain Meadow We Loved, Mount Laguna, California
Woodpeckers Make Holes, Squirrels Store One Acorn in Each Hole

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


En Route, somewhere in Southern California

Idyllic is the best word we can find to describe the Laguna Mountain Recreation area we just left. Now I think we understand the appeal of mountain cabins. The climate up there (at this time of year) is absolutely delicious. I think it is the combination of high altitude and low humidity. During the day the temperature may climb to the 80s but the air is dry and gentle breezes blow steadily. At night the temperature drops to perhaps 55; great sleeping weather.

Of course the nature and the views are beautiful, but we have seen so much beauty lately. In this case it is the combination of beauty and climate. We could stay there all summer, but only on weekdays before school is out when we are alone in the camp ground. But there are so many places yet to bee seen and some of those could be better than this

Yesterday we hiked to the top of Lightning Ridge, a local peak. We found a new type of giant pine cones at the top that we haven't seen before. The views from the peak were stunning. The only discordant note was some kind of man made structure at the summit. It was a geodesic dome about 40 feet in diameter, opaque, low, with a hatch and a barbed wire fence around it. What the heck? Libby speculated missile silo. A dozen or more other speculations could apply. Pictures later. The point is that we had another great adventure on that hike.

In the camp site we were entertained by a thieving western bluebird. New as bold, attempting to steal food at every change. We accidentally spilled some pretzels on the ground. He flew away with about 6 of them, then stopped. The next morning they were all gone, taken by night creatures.

Last night moonlight lit up the area like daylight. It would have been nice to view the meadows in moonlight from the mountain peak. The sounds of night creatures were sparse. An owl. A single dog bark. Squirrels chattering. No insect sounds at all. The breeze created a background infrasound. Not a single traffic noise penetrated. After dawn we heard a woodpecker very close.

Boy oh boy it is impossible to say too many good things about that place. For San Diego residents, drive west on I8, exit at Sunrise Highway around mile 45 or so, then drive 12 miles north. Avoid weekends.

Today, Mohave Desert and tomorrow a second visit with Mary Ann and John.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Laguna Mountain Campground, California

32 53.26 N 116 26.83 W

I'm sure that everyone who has traveled in the west is familiar with the forelorn looking residences visible from the highway. Ramshackle buildings, mobile homes, or simple RV trailers stand central. Surrounding these might be out buildings, and often trash, debris and abandoned vehicles. Some of these sights are seen on Indian land, but by no means all. It is not an Indian cultural problem. It is much wider.

My observation is that the vehicles parked in front of these houses are often new and expensive looking. That is an inversion of what we easterners consider normal.

In The East, the market value of a house and property is generally 20 or more times higher than the value of the vehicles. In extreme cases, the ratio may be as low as 5:1. The inversion I observe in the west is that the value of the vehicles seems higher than the value of the house and property. Sometimes more than 5:1. In extreme cases more than 20:1. The most extreme I saw was a beat up RV residence with a shiny, new looking, Porsche parked outside.

What' going on? I'm not a sociologist, so I can't supply actual answers. But I can speculate on a half dozen or so explanations. My best guess is that low income people want some touch of luxury in their lives and that a luxurious vehicle can be bought for much less money than a luxury house. Heck, our Ford Taurus has leather seats, electric windows, AC, carpeted floors, and an entertainment system. Luxury is the norm in cars.

Most important iMHO is the complex and profound relationship between Americans and their cars. Europeans will never understand. Sweden has a government policy to stamp out privately owned vehicles. Usually, what happens there comes here 20-25 years later. In this case, I foresee a major revolution.

Americans anchor their identities in their cars. They choose residences and life styles to accommodate their cars (e.g. this inversion). They design cities and shopping facilities around car access. 50% of Americans were conceived in cars. If gas prices in the USA rose to $10 per gallon, it would cause a huge crisis, but very few people would give up their cars.

Try to imagine a society that required almost all citizens to live in high density cities within walking distance of their jobs and shopping, and with private cars forbidden. Global warming energy efficiency seems to demand that. I can imagine the rest of the world living that way, but I can not visualize Americans doing so ever.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Go East

San Diego, California

We had a great weekend here with our grandson Bobby.   Bobby and I spent hours peering into every corner of the aircraft carrier, USS Miday.    We went out in the evening (San Diego streets are really alive at night.)  We saw the latest Star Trek movie.   Today we were joined by our friends Walt and Jessica.  The five of us went to a Sicilian street festival.   Bobby has a very neat apartment right in the heart of downtown.  Despite being country folks, Libby and I really enjoyed the city life for a couple of days.

So, what next?  The Pacific Coast Highway is appealing.  We have a very nice invitation from our friend Jay to sail on a W32 in San Francisco Bay.   To tell the truth though, I'm too chicken to drive through Los Angles or San Francisco.   We'll backtrack a big and return to the Laguna Mountain Recreation areas tomorrow to spend a few days.  That was our favorite of all the places we've seen so far.

Below is a semi accurate picture of our track so far from Google Maps.   Google says it was 3,200 miles, but I think we did about 3,500 miles (5600 km).   The best part is that we still have 4 months to play with.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Mountain Meadows

El Cajun, California

Mountains in the USA East don't usually have meadows. They are forested with rocky outcrops. Ditto mountains in Sweden. Therefore it was a special treat to find spacious open meadows in the Laguna Mountain area. Libby and I marveled at the beauty as we hiked 5 miles on the trail. Only the opening scene of The Sound Of Music was prettier.

We located this camp site on I just searched for a place between the Arizona border and San Diego. It worked well.

We liked that place so well that we plan to stop there again next week, and perhaps to stay for more than a day.

We are stopped right now to get an oil change, before going into San Diego.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Laguna Mountain Campground

Laguna Mountain Campground, California

32 53.26 N 116 26.83 W


What a neat place. We love it here. We already plan to stop here again when we start heading East again. (We can't go more west.)

The desert was a great experience, but with 105 degree weather and 11 percent humidity, it was oppressive. I think I got dehydrated out at Alamo Lake even though I drank lots of water.

Here, we are 5000 feet high. The high temp will be in the 60s and tonight's low 49; perfect sleeping weather. We have almost the whole campground to ourselves although Friday to Sunday, every site is booked.

There are wild turkeys pecking in our campsite. They seem pretty tame. Gobble gobble once every two minutes is their conversation.

We will go hiking to see what we can find. Tomorrow, the megopolis of San Diego and big changes.


Cleveland National Forest, California


We plan to spend several days in San Diego. Well visit with Bobby, and also our friends Walt and Jessica. Libby had an interesting suggestion. Perhaps we could cross the border and visit Tijuana, to buy some medical supplies. Maybe Bobby would even be interested.

A disadvantage of the nomadic life is that it is impractical to have a regular doctor. Neither of us has a relationship with a doctor. We have no prescriptions. That is a disadvantage once in a while when we would like to have so etching. Antibiotics when we have infections is the most frequent desire, but we don't know of the name of any specific antibiotic.

We do have some anti malarial pills for the Bahamas, but other than that we have nothing on board.

What do readers advise? Should we go? If so, what medicines should we acquire just to have on board for general purposes? Can we get there without our car?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Alamo Lake

Alamo Lake State Park

34 13.83 N 113 34.79 W


We came here with a little trepidation. After all, this place is 38 miles from the nearest tertiary road, we are in the Mohave Desert, and the temperature was 100 degrees. But we did our homework, we found that the road was paved, and we had a full tank of gas and 5 gallons of water. Most important, we are doing this trip to sample variety; expanding our envelope is precisely the point.

What did we find? Beautiful desert surroundings punctuated by sparse forests of magnificent saguaro cacti. At the camp site it was dry and dusty, and windy, but comfortable. There were numerous birds and exotic bird songs we had not heard before. We saw rabbits. We saw road runners. After dark the wild burros came into our camp. They woke us a couple of times with their braying - hee haw hee haw. Of course they pooped in their favorite spot only 10 feet from our tent.

We were not baked. We stuck to the shade in the afternoon when it was hottest. By dinner time, the sun was not strong. We went to bed at dark, but the strong breeze cooled us. By dawn, the temperature was down to 70 or less, so it was pleasant.

We did not see rattlesnakes, Gila monsters, tarantulas, or scorpions. Good.

The green lake is in a basin surrounded by dormant volcanos. The sight is spectacular. How did the water happen to be there? No idea. The lake was good for boating and fishing, but not for swimming.

All in all, it was a very nice experience. Yes, we did expand our envelope.

Tonight? No idea yet.

Surfing the net while land cruising.

Route 71

34 09.25 N 112 52.80 W


Most of you know that I am an Internet junkie. In addition to blogging, Facebook and email, I have a daily list of news sites I read. I confess to being a news junkie. My daily routine in order is: Dilbert, Wall Street Journal, NY Times, Washington Post, USA Today, APOD, Slashdot, Drudge, Al Jazeera, Westsail Owners Association, and Physics Forums. At night, Libby and I often watch things on Netflix.

All that is done on my Android phone, and more recently with the iPad. (I am one of the lucky ones with unlimited data at $30/month grandfathered in. We use up to 8GB/month.)

The pleasant surprise is that I have been able to keep up those habits while traveling. When it is Libby's turn to drive, I turn on the phone's WiFi hotspot, and surf the net using the iPad. I could do it all with the phone, but the iPad makes it easier. Even this blog post is being written as Libby drives. It works great 75% of the time, and not at all 25% of the time. (I have Verizon data and I use the FoxFi app to make the phone a hotspot.)

We also benefit from several web sites apt hat help us select routes and camp sites. The nicest one is the Americas Byways web site.

Of course Google Maps is an app that we use almost constantly. Even when we don't need application help, we appreciate the ETA and miles to go information. In Prescott, for example, we used Google Maps to guide us directly to AAA, to a supermarket, to the post office, and to lunch. You see, men are not shy asking a computer for directions.

A GPS app tells us our altitude, plus lat/Lon info for blog posts.

The app Tunein allows us to listen to any radio station even when the normal car radio gets nothing.

My hat is off to the providers of smart phones and 3G/4G wireless services. Well done.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Go West

Prescott, Arizona

Libby and I had a great time with John and Mary Ann. That whole area around Sedona is so beautiful.

Yesterday, John and I explored Jerome, Az. We found The Gold King Mine Ghost Town. It was the perfect thing for aging engineers. It had a collection of old cars, engines, mining equipment and more. We poked around for two hours having a ball. You see with mechanical things, an engineer can stare at them and figure out how they work. With electronics and other modern artifacts, it is totally boring to look at them.

Today, we are heading for Lake Alamo State Park for a camp site. I don't expect an Internet connection there. If we stay there more than one day, we will be incognito.


Alamo Lake

Alamo Lake


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Big Sky

Oak Creek, Arizona
34 47.33 N 111 47.09 W

We are having a wonderful time with our friends John and Mary Ann. We have missed then since they moved to Arizona, so this is a time to catch up. They have been treating us to the natural delights of the Sedona area. No matter which direction you look here, you see beauty.
Sedona's famous Castle Rock
Mary Ann, Libby and some neighbors go hiking.
But even before our arrival here, Libby and I began talking about the big sky effect.   In case you don't know, when you come to areas like this, the sky appears higher and bigger than in other places.   It is as if the sky were a big blue dome over us, and that we could perceive the size of the dome to be different in different places.

We know it isn't just us imagining it.  Almost everybody notices the effect.  Indeed, the state of Montana calls itself "Big Sky Country"    

The sky in the American West, seems bigger than in the East.  The sky in Sweden seems smaller.  The sky at sea seems smaller regardless of longitude and latitude.   They sky in Alaska? (we don't remember).

What is this big sky thing?   Is is imaginary?  Is is a physical effect?  Is it an optical illusion?  I tried to research it on Wikipedia; nothing useful found.  I searched the question on Google.  I found surprisingly little; only a couple of posts where people asked why big sky, and the answers they got were amateur and non-scientific.

Here's what I think we know.
  • It is not merely a question of latitude.   Montana is far north of Arizona.  In the lower 48 states of the USA, big/small sky seems to be more of an east/west phenomenon than a north/south one.
  • It is not merely a question of scenic vistas.  In the West, from elevated locations one can see many 10s or even hundreds of miles.  In the East, views are mostly blocked by trees.  At sea, the horizon is uncluttered and uniformly 3 miles away when we stand at the helm.
  • It does not seem to change with season or time of day, therefore the height of the sun in the sky is not the answer.
  • It seems to apply equally if the vista is flat desert or soaring mountains.  From a mountain top in Vermont, we can see 100 miles.  From a mountain top in Arizona we can see 100 miles.  Yet the sky appears bigger from the Arizona mountain top.
So, what is the real answer?  I don't know.  Maybe you do.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

A Whirlwind Day

Farmington, New Mexico

Whew, what a day.   It started at first light at 5AM.   Libby and I were both too cold to sleep more.  Our clothes and our equipment are good down to 40F, but I think it must have hit 20F at the camp site.  We got up, dressed, and struck camp without any breakfast.  We just wanted to get into the car with the heat on.   Breaking camp was tough because the tent was ice encrusted and the air mattress was stiff with cold.  But we did it.

45 minutes later we were in Santa Fe where I finally got my morning coffee.  Whew.   We didn't stay there, we continued on to Taos.   Taos was on our wish list of places to visit.   By 1100 we were in Taos.   What a beautiful ride.  Taos is certainly worthy of the name "promised land"

There are lots of camp sites in the Carson National Forest all around Taos.   But they were all at high altitude sites.   Tonight's temperature for Taos is forecasted to be 36, and the camp sites are 2000 feet higher than the town.

I relented and promised Libby that I would take her to a motel.   We could have stayed in Taos, but we are pressing to make a weekend date in Arizona.   Therefore, I said let's press on to Farmington, near Four Corners.

We took route 64, which winds north and west along the Colorado border.  By the way, I need to correct something I wrote the other day.  I said that we prefer secondary roads.  Actually we prefer tertiary roads; the smaller and windier the better as long as it is paved.  Route 64 filled that bill.

We soon came to the Rio Grande Gorge bridge, which is a spectacular place.  We walked around, we had a picnic, and Libby bought some artifacts from a local Indian man named Michael.  We also marveled at the snow capped mountains visible.

As we continued west on 64, the terrain changed from desert to forests and broad clearings.  Soon we began seeing snow in the woods and then we saw that the trees were covered with snow.   I checked the GPS and found that we were at 10,521 feet altitude.  Lots of camping spots here too, but too cold.

We saw a bear cross the road in front of us.  He was big!  Wow; we've never seen that before.

The scenery kept changing, with a diverse view over every hill crest.  We briefly saw the Rocky Mountains in Colorado.   My The West is so charming.

All in all it was a very successful day.  I've come to realize that we cruise on land like we cruise the ICW.  Haul anchor in the morning, and move until it is time to stop at the end of the day.  With a few exceptions, we derive our pleasure not from the end points but from the travel.   The phrase for that printed on many t-shirts is "The Journey Is The Destination"   I guess that our nomadic instincts are more than skin deep.

Libby Buys from Michael
The Rio Grand Gorge
The Bridge and Mountains
The Mountain Peak

Visitors at our camp last nighg
The Peak still closer

Santa Fe National Forest

Holy Ghost Campground, Pecos, New Mexico

35 46.25 N 105 42.03 W

Man oh man what a beautifully e we found this time. We just chose a campground based on arriving there between 1500 and 1600. We lucked out.

We are at an altitude of 7800 feet, under a big ponderosa pine tree (with excellent pine needles) and beside a babbling brook. There is only one other camper in this area. Our camping fee is only $4.

To get here we drove three miles up a very steep, very narrow road full of potholes. It was worth it.

Right behind us are snow covered mountain peaks. Wow oh wow what a place. Check it out on Google Earth using the coordinates above.

In the pic, Libby is on the left, the brook is behind the tent.
We are past the plains where motels prominently list "Storm Shelter" on their signs, and into and are where warnings for bears are more prominent.

Tomorrow we must backtrack 25 miles out of this box canyon, then head for Santa Fe and Taos.

P.s. our new tent worked great. It stormed last night, and some critter ransacked our stuff, but we slept throughout it all warm, dry and comfortable.

p.p.s. yesterday we got lost in Palo Dura Canyon. We turned the wrong way and walked to exhaustion. Finally a young couple drove by and we hitched a ride back. The couple had hiked up an 800 foot high hoodoo. Good for them. We are not into strenuous hiking any more.

p.p.p.s. We are both grinning ear to ear, we are having so much fun.


Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Palo Dura Canyon

Palo Dura Canyon, Texas

34 56.33 N 101 38.43 W


Well, we are still far from The Grand Canyon, but here in Texas there is a reasonable facsimile. Of course, it. Is only 1000 feet deep and 100 miles long, but there is a major advantage. We can drive our car to the bottom where our camp site is. We're too old for strenuous canyon wall hikes, so this fits well.


We also had to buy a bigger tent. Our first tent was 7x7 feet and our air mattress is only 6x4x1.5, so it sounded big enough. But I didn't recon on the slope. 1.5 feet up from the ground it is only 5.5x5.5 wide. We were too cramped. Our new tent is 10x8x6, quite a bit bigger.

Yesterday, Libby remarked that Oklahoma seemed pretty lush and green in the spring. 100 miles later it was bone dry. I thought that the climate change was big for only 100 miles. Then I checked the altitudes. Aha! Oklahoma City is 1200 feet MSL, while the Texas border is 3100 MSL and the canyon rim here is 3600 MSL.


Sunday, May 05, 2013

Short Day

Red Rock Canyon State Park, Hinton, Oklahoma

35 26.48 N 098 21.28 W

We had a very nice lunch with my cousin Joe and his wife Barbara at The Cattlemans Restaurant at the stockyards in Oklahoma City.

Now we are 40 miles west at Red Rock Canyon state park. It is very pretty here and the weather is improving. Settlers heading west in the 1800s used this as a cool place to rest after crossing the prairie.


Saturday, May 04, 2013

A Few Pictures

Forrest City, Arkansas
Greetings from The Blue Ridge Parkway
Douglas Dam Campsite
Floating Hill Campground, Center Hill Lake, Tennessee
Hiking along the Natchez Trace Parkway

Watch the fish at the Douglas Dam; cute.

Friday, May 03, 2013


Natchez Trace Parkway


We bypassed Nashville and found the Natchez Trace Parkway; a 444 mile nature trail for cars only slightly wider than a driveway. We stopped and hiked up a little mountain to take pictures. :-)

Recently I heard from a blog reader who cruises by motorboat with two outboards. He said, "Horrors. So different but different strokes from different folks." How true. Now it's our turn to be different. We heard from a friend about fun things to see in Nashville, and from another who talked about great eats in Memphis. Actually, we are trying to bypass all cities when possible.

Contrarian? Agoraphobic? We prefer to say different. Actually, there is a wonderfully melodic word in Swedish, anorlunda. It means different "Vara anorlunda" has been my motto for many years (note that I even misspell anorlunda differently). Now I find that citations of anorlunda (with my misspelling) are showing up all over the English speaking Internet. That's not what I wanted.

By the way, Libby and I agree that Tennesseans with their stories and their drawl are among the most charming people in this country.

100% chance of rain and thunderstorms tonight. We will probably chicken out and find a motel.


Thursday, May 02, 2013

Eastern Tennessee

Floating Hill Campground, Center Hill Lake
35 58.56 N 085 43.43 W

We had a delightful morning at the Oak Ridge Museum. The story of how Oak Ridge was conceived and created as part of the Manhattan Project during WWII is fascinating. Also fascinating was the primitive yet effective methods they intended to separate U235 from U238.

Tonight we are at a delightful campground run by the US Corps of Engineers. We are ahead of the real season and we have this whole camping are to ourselves. Our tent site is right on the shore of the lake. So far, no mosquitoes, hooray for that. Most people would kill for a camp site on the water, but we live on the water. We will have to try for sites with scenic views. For a whole though we are out of the mountains.

We started this morning at 0745 and arrived at this site at 1515. That's just about an ideal schedule for this type of travel.

Traveling on the secondary roads is a delight. It is much less stressful. We cruise at 45mph. We see nice scenery, quaint little towns, and we avoid traffic. Some of the roads are a challenge. Try remind me of Smugglers Notch Vermont.


Kodak, TN
35 57.63 N 083 32.67 W

The TVA camp site was nice. It also gave us a chance to hone our camping skills some more. Someday soon I'll spend a few hours in a library to upload pictures, and post some of them.

This morning we were treated to a spectacular view. In the foreground was the dam, then the lake, then a broad valley, then a fantastic mountain ridge with fog trying to spill over from the east. We presume that the Blue Ridge Parkway must be on top of that ridge.

The Gatlinburg, Smokey Mountain, are seemed appealing but it was not just touristy, but hyper touristed to a ridiculous degree. Typical attractions include Dolly (Parton) World, and a Hatfield McCoy dinner show. We stopped at a tourist bureau to get a map. The lady there wanted us to come to a free breakfast today to hear their pitch about bundles of attraction tickets. She offered free breakfast, and to pay for our campsite, plus a cash bonus just to listen. Jeez.

Today we are heading to the Oak Ridge Energy and Science Museum. Then we will head west stopping short of Nashville for another camping area.

We got several replies to yesterday's post. Most recommend the northern route. Thank you very much.

By the way, the weather calls for rain the next 4 consecutive days. That should test our camping enthusiasm.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Advice Sought

Morristown, Tennessee

OK, we hate to plan, but there is a major fork in the road ahead tomorrow. Looking at the map of the USA, we see two major possibilities.

  1. Continue west to Memphis, cross Arkansas, Oklahoma, and northern New Mexico to Arizona.
  2. Head south on the Natchez Trace byway to Louisiana, Texas to .El Paso, then southern New Mexico, to Tuscon.
We are most curious about New Mexico. Neither I nor Libby have been there. We hear that the Taos, NM area is very nice. We don't know about the attractions of the southern route through New Mexico. We've never been to Arkansas either, nor have we seen the Ozark Mountains.

On the other hand, we would love to visit Avery Island and Lake Charles Louisiana, Galveston, Austin, and El Paso.

Choices choices, we cant do both. Maybe our readers can help us to crowd source this decision. What are the attractions of each route?