Old Fiddlers and Saint Chatty’s Day

PickingOur planned weekend camping trip to Chattanooga was threatened by thunderstorms and heavy rain so we left the RV home and decided to take a day-trip to get an old-time music fix.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe arrived a couple of hours before the music was due to start and decided to walk from the Lindsay Street Hall to to the riverfront for some exercise and just to enjoy Chattanooga.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAImagine our surprise when we encountered a parking lot full of bands, cars, floats and marchers staging for a parade. It looked like an early St. Patrick’s Day parade but all the signage said Saint Chatty’s Day.

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Any excuse to drink beer and  act foolish so we dragged ourselves all along the parade route cheering and clapping for the performers and marchers until the parade passed and it was time for the music to start.

Lunch at “The Honest Pint” then lots of great music. Plenty of banjos, fiddles and guitars.

The good, the bad and the ugly.

It seems anticlimactic to write a closing chapter of this blog, we have spent most of the last 82 days living in a 20’ Class B Pleasure-Way Motor-home but there have been so many places, things and events that I thought it might be fun to put some of them in a final blog entry.

Most Unusual – Worlds Largest Porch Swing, Hebron, NE

Most Snow – 7″ Aurora, CO

Happiest Event – Chrissy and Zack’s wedding    

Slipperiest – Soldier’s Pass, UT

Best Event – Oyster & Clam Bake Phillipsburg, MT

Unusual Road Sign – Curling Arena Black Diamond, AB

Animal Picture – Mountain Goat, Icefields Parkway, Alberta, CA

Least Expensive Campground – Frasier Lake Municipal, BC
Most Needed – Long visit with Jerry, WA

Strangest RV – HUGE North Rim, AZ
From catching up with friends and family to spectacular scenery and unusual places, this has been a wonderful happy trip for us but there is also some sadness.  Three wonderful friends left this world while we were on the road: Mike DeMartino, Dick Witham and Irene Miller. We love you and pray that you are in a better place.

That is about all.  Thank you for following our journey.

Mary & Richard Norman

Day 82 Little Rock, AR to Loudon, TN

 

Day 82 7/19/2015
 

Leaving Arkansas
We got an early start and filled up with gas at 8:15 ($2.399 for our California kin) and got back on I40 with our next book on tape and hopes of reaching home before dark.
 

Mississippi River out of its banks
Memphis was surprisingly busy for a Sunday morning, we crossed the out-of-its-banks Mississippi and hit a wall of traffic and construction.  Rolled through Nashville in the early afternoon and pulled in to Lenoir City at 6:03pm.
We stopped for dinner and a few groceries before arriving home at 7:30.
 

Memphis skyline, 300 miles to go
The road weary travelers had completed their journey of 10172 miles in 82 days.  Watch for the trip summary entry in a few days.
Odometer: 87460 Miles Today: 520 Total Miles: 10172

Day 81 Texola, OK to Little Rock, AR

Day 81 7/18/2015
 
Rough Oklahoma Roads

We dumped tanks and filled fresh water before leaving DD at 9:18. We made good time on I40 just running at 65 or so in the right lane.  Mary suggested that we finish the book on tape that we had started in the first few days of our journey but dropped, as we couldn’t pay attention to the scenery and the book.
 
Mary, Wine and a River – Life is good!

Ssturday traffic around Oklahoma City was not as bad as we had feared so we just kept rolling into Arkansas and eventually stopped in Little Rock at the Downtown Riverside RV Park on the Arkansas River – HOT!
Odometer: 86940 Miles Today: 487 Total Miles: 9652

Day 80 Bernalillo, MM to Texola, Oklahoma

Day 80 7/17/2015
Leaving Bernalillo, NM, we passed through Albuquerque, NM and got onto I40 – No more turns until we get home!  We need to move on down the road to get there in time for Dick’s memorial.
We enjoyed the changing scenery from New Mexico to the Texas Panhandle and drove through a frightening thunderstorm just East of Amarillo, TX.  Windmills were everywhere in the panhandle.
Texas Panhandle

The landscape in East New Mexico and across much of the Texas Panhandle was much greener than we had expected so I guess some of the really heavy late Spring and early Summer rains in these areas did some good.

Finally we arrived at the Double D Campground in Texola, Oklahoma.  The whole town consists of a restaurant (on vacation), a convenience store/gas station, the RV park, a few houses and a really nice little campground.
 
Windmills everywhere

We setup in a nice shady spot and just relaxed away the stresses of the day.
Odometer: 86453 Miles Today: 413 Total Miles: 9165

Day 79 Lake Powell, AZ to Bernalillo, NM

 

Day 79 7/16/2015
 

Sunset at Lake Powell

 

We left Lake Powell and headed for another bucket list spot of mine, 4 Corners where Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico meet.
 

Campground full of Jackrabbits
We made good time and enjoyed the scenery all along our route but when we arrived at 4 Corners, we encountered a monument in a state of decay, 40 booths of Indians selling crafts and a line moving at a snail’s pace to stand on the spot.

 

We looked and left, disappointed in the experience but able to check off the item on my list.
 

4 Corners
Continuing into New Mexico, we passed through Red Mesa (home of the high school Redskins) and through some more prosperous groups of Navahos as we searched for a place to stay.

 

There didn’t seem to be any RV parks in the Navaho Nation, just a few abandoned parks and lots of no parking and no camping signs.
 

Camping by the Rio Grande
At last we came to the Coronado Campground in Bernalillo, NM willing to take just about any site but the camp host placed us on a bluff overlooking the Rio Grande!  Are we lucky or what?
 

Sunset over Coronado Campground
Odometer: 86041  Miles Today: 411 Total Miles: 8752

Day 78 Kanab, UT to Lake Powell, AZ

Day 78 7/15/2015

Underway at 8:15am (Utah time MDT) after stopping at Honey’s Mercantile & Grocery in Kanab – needed milk. Kanab is at 4000 feet elevation.
 
Waiting in line to get in the park

Heading toward the North Rim along 89A to Jacobs Lake then 67 South to the rim.  Although it was only about 100 miles, it took nearly 3 hours due to sightseeing and steep winding roads.
 
I always wanted to see the canyon from here.

We were surprised that there were no large animals anywhere in the large open meadows along 67, this was the type of habitat where we saw elk and bison earlier this summer but a lone deer in the 2000 forest fire burn area was the only thing larger than a ground squirrel that we saw today.
 
Hard at work watching the view.

We did see spectacular mesas and canyons all along our route. Arriving at the North Rim at about 10:00am (Arizona MST).  Our response to first site – WOW! North Rim is at 8300 feet.
 
Watch your step

Nothing could have prepared us for the breathtaking site of the canyon in person. All the pictures we have seen (and the ones posted here as well) just cannot convey the majesty of the Grand Canyon – see it for yourself and you’ll know what I mean.
 
You just have to see it yourself

We decided to take what is probably our last opportunity to have lunch in a spectacular old National Park Lodge.  It did not disappoint. (Thanks Jimmy)
 
Our obligatory selfie.

Leaving the canyon, we had to backtrack 50 miles along 67 to route 89A where we began dropping on a 6% grade for 20 minutes until we leveled out on the “Vermillion Highway” at 4000 feet again.
 
View from the dining room

Driving through the Navaho Nation, we were struck by the poverty and decayed infrastructure along the highway.  No industry, no jobs and little hope.
 
Heading down the mountain into Navaho Nation

We reached the Vermillion Cliffs and began another steep climb to 6000 feet and then down again to Lake Powell at around 4400 feet.  
 
Restrooms and showers at Lake Powell

 Lots of climbing and downgrades before landing at the Waheap Campground and RV Park on the shore of the lake. A fitting conclusion to another spectacular day.
 
View from our campsite at Lake Powell.

Odometer: 85630 Miles Today: 214  Total Miles: 8341

Day 77 Las Vegas, NV to Kanab, UT

Day 77 7/14/2015
 
Checkerboard Mesa – Zion NP

By 10pm last night, the sounds of freedom (jets taking off) secured for the night and we got a reasonable nights rest.  It was HOT and the AC could keep up but it is noisy when trying to sleep so we changed to fan about 1am when it was just 85 degrees.

Up about 6 and after breakfast, we dumped out tanks, topped off the fresh water and headed for the grocery store and gas station before getting on the road at 9:30.

It was a short 2.5 hours to St. George, UT where we had intended to stop for the night but since it was so early, we decided to drive through Zion National Park and spend the night in Kanab, UT

Zion was absolutely beautiful (and horribly crowded) as we wound our way through switchbacks and steep grades.  The mile long tunnel was tough on the driver as they had openings every few hundred yards that destroyed my night vision. 

Leaving Zion at the East entrance, it was a short 17 miles down to Kanab and our campsite for the night.  We did our laundry and planned the highlights for tomorrow.

Odometer: 85416 Miles Today: 217 Total Miles: 8127

Day 76 Downey, CA to Las Vegas, NV

Day 76 7/13/15
We left Downey with mixed emotions – sad to be leaving our family and our friends but happy to be heading East toward more adventures and in a couple more thousand miles, home.
Solar Furnace

The road to Las Vegas from the Los Angeles area is straight, wide and fast.  While we delighted in the desert and mountains and Joshua trees, the most interesting sight along the way was three huge towers with what appeared to be searchlights on top of them. We learned that these are a massive solarfurnace generating 400MW.
About 4pm, we checked I at the Hitching Post RV park near Nellis AFB just NE of Las Vegas.
Odometer: 85199 Miles Today: 299 Total Miles: 7910