Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year! - 12/31/13


Tuesday – December 31, 2013
Homestead, Florida
Everglades National Park
Long Pine Key Campground

We celebrated New Year’s eve with our traditional lobster tail dinner, served with fresh asparagus spears and a medley of fresh green pepper, red pepper and tomatoes smothered in a dressing of extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The lobster and asparagus were prepared on our versatile charcoal Cobb Grill. I added some wet hickory chips to the charcoal briquettes, which imparted a very tasty smokey flavor to these two delectable entrees. Refreshed from this scrumptious meal, we settled in with our fellow campers, here at Long Pine Key Campground, to welcome in 2014.

We had an unexpected visitor in the campground today. A fellow camper showed us a picture he took of a rattlesnake in an unoccupied campsite next to ours. It was out in the open for a few minutes until it disappeared into the dense vegetation and shrubs that separate each campsite. The camper described the snake as being about 6 to 8 inches in diameter and about 4 to 5 feet in length. Needless to say, we kept a watchful eye on our campsite for the remainder of the day.

Since Friday, December 27, it has been overcast during the day and clear at night. The temperature has been consistently in the low 80’s during the day and in the low to mid 60’s during the night. When we see the below zero temperatures in the Chicago area, it makes us thankful we are able to travel to a warmer climate to ride out the sometimes brutal winter months up north.

Everglades National Park limits campers to a 14-day stay during the winter months. We will complete our 14-day stay on Wednesday, January 1, 2014. We will depart here Thursday morning, January 2, for the Big Cypress National Preserve and spend 10 days there.

Happy New Year to all!

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas in the Everglades - 12/25/13


Wednesday – December 25, 2013
Homestead, Florida
Everglades National Park
Long Pine Key Campground

Merry Christmas to all! This is our first Christmas spent in the Everglades National Park. It is a beautiful, partially sunny day with the temperature in the high 70’s and low humidity. Patches of puffy white clouds with shades of gray, float slowly through the blue sky above. A cold wave came through the area late yesterday afternoon providing a welcome relief from temperatures in the mid-80’s with higher humidity earlier in the week.

Last year we spent Christmas at The Riverwalk in San Antonio, Texas. Our plan is to spend Christmas each year in a different southern location.

We thoroughly enjoyed our 5-mile walk around the campground this morning. The cool morning air provided a welcome relief from the warmer weather earlier in the week. Refreshed from our walk, we returned to our Casita Trailer for a heart-healthy, hearty breakfast of an egg omelet with sausage patties.

Several other campers are also spending Christmas here at the Long Pine Key Campground. One particular campsite is occupied by a slender, attractive, young woman with three beautiful young girls. The woman looks to be in her late twenties and her daughters probably range in age from 3 years to 8 years old. They are tent camping and their car has Alaska license plates. When we passed their campsite one morning, on one of our walks, the mother and each daughter were sitting on their individual backpacks eating breakfast. Sharon and I wondered what brought this mother and three small children here, so far from home.

Another camper, a retired couple living in Florida, have a small vintage style trailer that looks like it came right out of the 1970’s. It turns out it is a new trailer that they purchased in 2012. The brand of trailer is a White Water Retro manufactured by Riverside RV. It looks to be about 13 feet in length and equipped with a cooking stove, refrigerator and wash basin.

Of the 108 campsites here only about 15 are occupied.

Life is good here at the Long Pine Key campground on Christmas Day!

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Everglades NP - 12/20/13


Friday – December 20, 2013
Homestead, Florida
Everglades National Park
Long Pine Key Campground

We departed the Miccosukee Resorts & Gaming Casino near Miami, Florida at 8:00 a.m. on Thursday, December 19, and arrived at the Long Pine Key Campground in the Everglades National Park at 9:10 a.m. This is one of our favorite campgrounds in all of Florida.

Long Pine Campground had just opened Thursday morning at 8:00 a.m. after being closed since June for repaving of the campsites and the campground road. The campground Park Rangers, at the check-in kiosk, provided a hearty welcome and informed us we were the first campers to arrive at the campground since it reopened. We had first choice of any campsite out of the 108 campsites in this campground. We chose site #29 and settled in for our fourteen-day stay here.

The weather here in southern Florida is warm and sunny with the temperature in the mid-80’s during the day and dropping into the mid-60’s at night. We can definitely handle this, compared to the cooler weather we endured in northern Florida.

Ah… but all is not peaceful here. At 2:00 a.m. Friday morning we were awakened by a knocking noise. At first I thought the noise was coming from under our trailer. Then I realized it was someone chopping wood at another campsite near ours. From the voices we could tell there was more than one camper in their group. They started a campfire and carried on loud conversations until 3:30 a.m. They showed a total lack of respect for the other campers near their campsite that were sleeping at the time. I made a mental note to fire up our generator at 8:00 a.m. and went back to sleep!

This morning we discovered the campers were two young couples sharing a tent. They had two vehicles, each one with Florida license plates. We reported them to the Park Rangers whom had a chat with them regarding the campground rules of the quiet period from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. They also cautioned them to show respect to other campers sleeping when arriving late at night to a campground. The Park Rangers reported back to us of their conversation with the campers and reported seeing an empty vodka bottle on the ground in their campsite. The Park Rangers attributed that empty bottle to their noisy behavior. The campers offered their apology to the Park Rangers and stated they were leaving in a couple of hours. We were grateful to hear they were leaving. Fortunately, in our travels, this incident was one of those rare events.

Our time spent here will be filled with our daily 5-mile morning walks, reading and lots of sight seeing.

Camping Fee: $16.00 per day ($8.00 with Golden Age Pass)

Total miles traveled Thursday: 38

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Miccosukee Casino - 12/18/13

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Wednesday – December 18, 2013
Miccosukee Resorts & Gaming Casino
Miami, Florida

We bid adieu to the Ocean Pond Campground in the Osceola National Forest near Lake City, Florida. This has been our home for the past six days. The weather here for the past two days has been sunny days with temperatures in the mid to high 60’s.

We said our good-byes to new as well as old friends: Ken and Helen of Vermont who travel in their motorhome and Roger and his wife from Ontario, Canada who travel in their trailer. We first met these folks here in March 2012. New friends, Brad and Jan are originally from New Hampshire but now call Rhode Island home. They have been campers for the past 14 years. They have a Ford, full size van camper, that serves as their homebase away from home. It has been outfitted with a solar panel they use to power their electrical requirements, including their Television and Direct TV satellite. They usually winter in southern California and Mexico, but decided to spend the winter in Florida this year, due to his wife having a health problem that requires her to be in Rhode Island on January 20, 2014.

We departed Lake City, Florida at 12:10 p.m., after washing our Casita Trailer at a car wash. We had washed our Ford E-150 Cargo Van at the same car wash on Tuesday. It felt good to get rid of the road grime we had accumulated on both vehicles from the nasty weather we had encountered in southern Illinois.

Our destination today is the Everglades National Park in southern Florida. It is a little over a 400-mile drive, so we plan to stop for the night somewhere along the way. Our route took us on I-75 south to the Florida Turnpike, which is the shortest route there.

The Florida Turnpike Plazas did not provide a suitable area to spend the night, in our opinion, so we chose to search for an alternative location on our smartphone. As we were approaching Miami, Sharon happened to remember a casino we had passed on our previous trips to the Everglades. We arrived at the Miccosukee Resort & Gaming Casino at 7:20 p.m. It is located at the intersection of FL-997 and US-41. They have a large parking area for RV’s with 24-hour roaming security. We settled in for a night of rest among several other RV’s.

Total miles traveled today: 408

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Ocean Pond NFCG, FL - 12/14/13

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Saturday – December 14, 2013
Lake City, Florida
Oceola National Forest
Ocean Pond Campground

It was a beautiful sunny day here at the Ocean Pond campground on Friday. The temperature was in the mi-60’s. It was an excellent day for our daily 5-mile walk. We started out with a walk around the campground, then onto the entrance road to the campground that took us 1.5 miles to the main road (Florida State Road 250A) and then back to the campground.

Refreshed from or walk, I prepared a gourmet breakfast for the two of us, consisting of one egg on a sausage patty, topped with melted shredded cheese and smothered with grilled onion, celery, red & yellow peppers, garlic and chopped tomatoes and green chili’s. This homemade breakfast recipe has become one of our favorites that we now have two or three times a week. The chopped tomatoes and green chili mixture provides this dish with just enough heat to satisfy our desire for a spicy taste. I cook the eggs inside of three-inch diameter rings that are seated inside of the frying pan, so the eggs come out perfectly round every time. It also provides for a very nice presentation.

Saturday has brought in a warm front with the temperature forecast to reach 78 degrees. It has been overcast all day, with a few brief sprinkles lasting only a minute or so. We managed to get our 5-mile walk in this morning, despite the sprinkles of rain.

Ocean Pond is a very scenic and well-maintained campground. There are four restroom facilities with flush toilets. Two of the restroom facilities have hot showers and have a washer and dryer available for use by the campers for a $1.00 fee each.

Ocean Pond has a total of 67 campsites:

Campsites 1 through 19 have electric and water hookups. They are located on paved pads, within a circular open area, providing some degree of privacy between campsites. The daily fee for these sites is $18.00 ($12.00 for Golden Age Passholders).

Campsites 20 through 46 have only water hookups. They are located on paved pads, within a straight stretch of the campground road, providing an open campsite area surrounded by pine trees that offer a high degree of privacy between campsites. The daily fee for these sites is $12.00 ($6.00 for Golden Age Passholders).

Campsites 47 through 67 do not have any hookups. They are located on gravel pads, within a circular heavy wooded area, providing a high degree of privacy between campsites. The daily fee for these sites is $8.00 ($4.00 for Golden Age Passholders).

Adjacent to the campground is Ocean Pond Lake. It is a bowl shaped fresh-water lake stretching two miles wide and only 12 feet deep. This is a popular area for fishing, kayaking and canoeing. It looks like small fishing boats with trolling motors are allowed on the lake. There is a swimming beach located within the campground. Signs are posted warning that Alligators inhabit the lake.

Another enjoyable day spent at Ocean Pond.

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Lake City, FL - 12/12/13


Thursday – December 12, 2013
Lake City, Florida
Oceola National Forest
Ocean Pond Campground

We wrapped up our stay at St. Andrews State Park in Panama City Beach, Florida with a hearty breakfast at "The Egg And I" restaurant with my son and his wife. Today is Sharon’s birthday, so we had a mini-celebration at the restaurant.

It is a cool, windy, sunny day with the temperature in the low 60’s. A good day to travel to our next destination near Lake City, Florida. We departed St. Andrews State Park at 12:25 p.m. (Central Time). We decided to take route US-98 east out of Panama City Beach. This route would take us by the Tyndall Air Force Base, home of the awesome F-22 Raptor. We were hopeful to see if any were flying today. Upon our arrival there, we were fortunate to see five of them taking off, one after the other, within seconds of one another. This fighter aircraft is a sight to behold. The ear-piercing roar of their jet engines sends a shuddering sensation through one’s body. Within seconds of their takeoff, they disappeared from sight. It is a humbling and comforting experience to see the power of America’s air defense up close and personal. Thank you for your service, to all of our men and women serving in the military.

We continued traveling east on US-98 to Port St. Joe where we picked up FL-71. We traveled north on FL-71, then east on FL-20 to north on FL-12 to Interstate 10. We arrived at the Ocean Pond Campground in the Osceola National Forest at 6:10 p.m. (Central Time). This campground is located about 17 miles east of Lake City on US-90, north of the town of Olustee. We had stayed in this campground in January and March of 2012. It was nice to be back again.

There are 13 campsites with electric and water hookups. They are all First-Come-First-Serve campsites. We lucked out on this visit, there were three campsites left. We selected site #11 (the same site we had in March 2012) and settled in for a well-deserved evening of rest. The temperature is forecast to be 36 degrees tonight. It will be nice to have the electric hookup so we can run our electric heater.

Camping Fee: $18.00 per day ($12.00 with Golden Age Pass)

Total miles traveled today: 272

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

St. Andrew SP, FL - 12/11/13

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Wednesday – December 11, 2013
Panama City Beach, Florida
St. Andrew State Park

It was a cold and windy day here yesterday. The temperature was in the low 60’s with an overcast sky, making for a bone-chilling day outside. We still managed to get our 5-mile walk in, despite the cooler weather.

We had dinner last night with my son, daughter-in-law, and grandson at Pompano Joe’s Seafood restaurant on Front Beach Road in Panama City Beach, Florida. This is a relatively new restaurant at this location. The food was just okay and the service was horrible. It took a very long time for the food to be served after we had placed our order. We could understand it if the restaurant was busy, but we were the only diners there at 5:30 p.m. This restaurant desperately needs help from "Restaurant Impossible" on the Food Network. Needless to say, we will not be back!

The weather today is much better. It is a bright sunny day, with the temperature in the mid-60’s and no wind. It was nice to get our 5-mile walk in this morning with the bright sun providing its warmth during our walk. Our walk takes us two times around the State Park Circle Road. The road circles a wet marsh area filled with a vast variety of plants, trees, birds, alligators and marine life. It is a scene straight out of a rain forest environment. Absolutely beautiful!

We are surprised to see the number of empty campsites here. There are 176 campsites available at this state park and only 37 are occupied. My son told me that it’s very slow here during the winter months. Their busy months are in March (spring break) and during the summer when they get an influx of visitors from the surrounding states, with a large portion coming from Alabama.

We went to the beach twice today. In the afternoon there was a self-propelled hang-glider flying quite high over the water of the Gulf of Mexico. We marveled at how the pilot would maneuver his aircraft through the sky, descending and making frequent sharp turns. At times, the pilot would shut the engine off and glide his aircraft in a long arc, using its canopy for control. After a minute or so, he would restart the engine, gain altitude and then repeat the cycle of turning the engine off and gliding. It was quite a show the pilot put on for the viewing audience on the beach.

In the evening we returned to the beach to watch the sunset at 4:47 p.m. What a show this sun in our solar system puts on for all life forms inhabiting this rotating sphere called Earth. As this massive sphere of nuclear energy recedes over the horizon, the fading light reflects off of the gently drifting clouds, putting on a brilliant display of pink and red shades of color.

We will depart here on Thursday to continue on our five-month snowbird journey through Florida.

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Panama City Beach, FL - 12/09/13

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Monday – December 9, 2013
Panama City Beach, Florida
St. Andrew State Park

Sunday was overcast all day with a few rain showers in the morning, here at Gunter Hill COE Campground near Montgomery, Alabama. However, the temperature was a balmy 65 degrees. We felt quite fortunate to be here in this warmer weather compared to the 20 degree weather we would be enduring if we were back home in Chicago.

We departed Gunter Hill at 10:35 a.m. This is my birthday today, so we will celebrate it while in-route to Panama City Beach, Florida.

We arrived at St. Andrews State Park at 4:00 p.m. We did not have reservations, but a phone call two hours earlier in the day, confirmed they had plenty of campsites available. Upon check-in, I requested campsite #40. Fortunately, it was available for our two-night stay. We had checked out this campsite during our stay here in March 2013. It is one of the better campsites, providing a fair amount of privacy and a great view of the waterfront. This is a very scenic campground overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. However, as we have seen in our many visits to other Florida State Parks, the campsites are densely populated throughout the campground, offering very little privacy between campsites. We generally avoid these types of campgrounds, but we are meeting with family members who live in Panama City Beach, and this area provides a convenient meeting location.

We will meet my son, his wife and my 13 year-old grandson for dinner tomorrow night. It will be quite a celebration! We will be celebrating three birthdays in December: My son’s on the 1st, mine on the 9th, and Sharon’s on the 12th.

We no sooner got settled into our campsite when the rain started around 6:30 p.m. It is supposed to last until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow. We just can’t catch a break with all of this rain that followed us through Tennessee and Alabama. We did hit some sunshine as we left Alabama and entered Florida, but then the rain clouds started rolling in. At least the temperature here is in the high 70’s.

St. Andrew SP Camping Fee: $31.22 per day including taxes.

Total miles traveled today: 211

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Montgomery, AL - 12/07/13

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Saturday – December 7, 2013
Montgomery, Alabama
Gunter Hill COE Campground

We spent a restful night at the Rickwood Cavern State Park in Warrior, Alabama. It rained throughout the night providing a soothing sound of cascading raindrops on the roof of our trailer. We departed the campground at 10:10 a.m. Our destination today is an Army Corp of Engineering (COE) campground near Montgomery, Alabama.

Well, it had to happen at some time or another. Our trusty GPS coordinates led us into a dead-end dirt road in Prattsville, Alabama. I had obtained the coordinates from Reserve America Online, prior to leaving home, and boy were they wrong. Now the fun part begins! We are on a narrow dirt road; the sides of the road are very muddy from all of the rain. I have to somehow turn around in this mess! Fortunately, there is a long entrance road to a home, quite a distance from the dirt road we are on. There is a fairly large circular area leading into the entrance road. Part of the circular area is quite muddy, which limits the space I have to turn around. After about 30 minutes of backing up and inching forward… SUCCESS! I finally get us turned around. This was one of the tightest spots we have gotten into in all of our travels. Somehow, we have been fortunate to always extricate ourselves from these mishaps.

With that Reserve America GPS fiasco behind us, I looked up the address to the campground on our smartphone, entered that address into our GPS and off we go! We arrived at the Gunter Hill Campground at 2:05 p.m., selected campsite 71 in the Catoma Loop of the campground and settled in to relax.

There are two campground loops in the Gunter Hill Campground: Antioch and Catoma. Antioch closes for the winter and reopens on March 1. Catoma is open all year. There are 146 total campsites, 71 in the Antioch Loop and 75 in the Catoma Loop. The Antioch Loop has gravel pads and the Catoma Loop has concrete pads. There are 57 sites with full hookups and 89 sites with electric and water hookups. Both loops have nicely appointed restroom facilities with flush toilets, hot showers and laundry facilities. There are two washers and dryers in each facility, $1.00 fee for each. There is a dump station in each campground loop.

Gunter Hill is a beautiful campground, with spacious campsites dispersed throughout an open wooded area. It is one of many COE campgrounds located throughout the Alabama River Lakes Region. This region is a fisherman’s paradise. Large populations of catfish, crappie and bass provide an adventure for anglers of all ages. This will definitely be one of our favorite places to stop on our future snowbird treks to Florida for the winter.

Gunter Hill Camping Fee: $22.00 per day (50% discount for Golden Age Passholders).

Total miles traveled today: 145

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Warrior, AL - 12/06/13

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Friday – December 6, 2013
Warrior, Alabama
Rickwood Caverns State Park

The freezing rain/sleet continued throughout the night at the Fort Massac State Park campground in Metropolis, Illinois. We awoke to find our Ford E-150 van and Casita Trailer completely covered in ice, at least one-half inch thick. I literally had to pry open the driver’s side door on the Ford, started the engine, turned the heater on full blast and selected the window defroster option. One hour later the ice buildup was starting to thaw. Having no ice scraper onboard, I took a wooden spatula from our kitchen to remove chunks of ice from the side windows. With that task accomplished, I turned my attention to the windshield. This proved to be more difficult because the windshield wipers and the rotating portion of the wiper arm were buried in about one inch of ice. If I could not get the wipers to function, we were not going anywhere. The freezing rain had now changed to sleet, with heavy snow forecast to begin later in the day. Time was of the essence. I diligently continued chipping ice from the wiper arms and blades with my trusty wooden spatula. Finally, after about 30 minutes… success! The wiper arms could now move freely. Now to remove the ice buildup from the windows. The window defroster had done its job! The ice came off in large chunks. With the windows cleared, the windshield wipers functioning properly, time to get outta here!

We departed the Fort Massac campground at 8:35 a.m. The exit from the campground to US-45 is about one-half mile, and now a slippery, sleet covered road. US-45 is a four-lane highway, but only one lane in each direction was suitable for driving. We very slowly and cautiously made our way north on US-45 to Interstate 24, about three miles north of the campground. Upon our entry to eastbound I-24, only one lane in each direction was really suitable for driving. Truckers were reporting on the CB radio that the eastbound traffic would leave the freezing rain/sleet mixture behind at the Tennessee State line and just have to deal with rain from that point on. They reported that westbound traffic was in for a rough ride, with the weather deteriorating by the minute. Many westbound truckers reported they were going to park their rigs at the next truckstop and ride out the storm.

Driving east on I-24 was a white-knuckle adventure. Truckers were complaining that they had not seen any snowplows out spreading salt on the Interstate. The speed limit is 70 mph. We cruised along at 35 mph for the first 50 miles and then cranked it up to 40 mph for the next 30 miles. Finally, about 20 miles west of the Tennessee state line, the freezing rain/sleet mixture turned into a heavy rain, the road surface was free of ice buildup in both lanes and we were able to cruise along at 50 mph.

Our travel plan for today was to reach Montgomery, Alabama and camp at the Gunter Hill COE campground. Our GPS showed our arrival there would be at 5:30 p.m. By that time it would be dark and we prefer not to arrive at a campground after dark. We stopped at the Visitor Center in Alabama on Interstate 65. Our first task was to clear off the one-onch thick ice from the hood of our Ford van. A good sized chuck had blown off earlier and hit our windshield. I did not want to take a chance on another chunk flying into our windshield and possibly cracking or breaking it. Our next task was to look for state park campgrounds north of Birmingham, Alabama. We found a brochure on Rickwood Cavern State Park, about 70 miles south of the Visitor Center on I-65 in Warrior, Alabama. Our GPS showed we would arrive at 3:35 p.m. Perfect! Off we go!

We arrived at Rickwood at 3:40 p.m., registered at the park office and selected campsite #6. This is a small campground with only 13 campsites. There are electric and water hookups at each site. An added bonus for us is we have cell phone and Internet service through our T-Mobile service provider.

The Rickwood Caverns is located within the State Park and is the first operational caving park in the entire Alabama State Park System. The underground "miracle mile" is composed of magnificent passages and beautifully lighted rooms accented with thousands of sparkling white limestone formations.

The caverns themselves were water-formed during the Mississippi period over 260 million years ago. The cave area itself was once an ocean bed. Bits of shell as well as fossils of marine life are clearly visible along the cavern ceiling and walls. And, blind cave fish inhibit crystal clear water in the cavern pools.

Guided cave tours are provided daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Guided tours are provided on weekends only from March through Memorial Day and September through October. Cave admission is $15.00 for adults and $6.00 for children, ages 5 through 11. Cave admission for adult campers is $10.00.

A return visit to this state park in March or April 2014 to explore the cave is now on our Bucket List!

Rickwood Camping Fee: $20.05 per day Mon-Thur / $23.05 Fri-Sun (15% discount for seniors)

Total miles traveled today: 311

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Metropolis, IL - 12/05/13

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Thursday – December 5, 2013
Metropolis, Illinois
Fort Massac State Park

It is time to head south for the winter. We departed the Chicago area at 9:40 a.m. and arrived at the Fort Massac State Park in Metropolis, Illinois at 5:35 p.m. We selected campsite #12 and settled in for a well-deserved good night’s rest.

Our trip was not without a few hiccups along the way. Just south of Effingham, Illinois we encountered the onset of a major winter storm entering southern Illinois. It started out as freezing rain, then turned into sleet mixed with snow. In no time at all Interstate 57 was building up with a heavy slush, making for slow travel at 45 mph for those of us drivers who were being cautious. Some drivers, who felt the need for speed on these slippery road conditions, soon found themselves sliding off of the road into the ditch. After 110 miles of nasty road conditions, we arrived in Marion, Illinois. The freezing, slushy, rain/snow mix had now turned into a light rain, allowing us to cruise along comfortably at 55 mph into Metropolis, Illinois.

While we were traveling through a section on I-57 with the freezing rain/snow mix, a semi-truck pulled along side of us and honked his horn and pointed to the rear of our trailer. He then hailed me on the CB and told me one of our bikes had come partially off of its mount on the bike rack. Perfect! I pull off on the sleet-covered shoulder of the road and get out to inspect my mishap. Sure enough, one of the bungee cords had snapped off that secured the front of the bike to the outside mount of the bike rack. I re-secured the bike, all the while enduring the 28 degree freezing temperature and a slushy spray kicked up from the passing traffic. As I am getting back into the van I murmured to Sharon something about "we should have left home on Wednesday!"

About 70 miles further down the road, another semi-truck pulls up along side of us, sounds his horn and points to the back of our trailer. This is just great! Another adventure to the back of the trailer in this nasty weather to once again be favored with the road spray from the passing traffic! This time the bungee cord securing the back portion of the same bike snapped off. Having re-secured the bike to the bike rack, as I am entering our van Sharon innocently asks: "why don’t you just put the bikes in the van?" This is not the time to be asking me that question. It’s a guy thing!

On our past trips we carried our bikes in the van. This took up quite a bit of space in the van, so in October 2013 we had a receiver hitch installed on our trailer and mounted a bike rack onto the hitch. This is our maiden voyage with the bike rack and it is obvious I need to reengineer the method I use to secure the bikes to the bike rack. A trip to Home Depot is definitely in order to secure the items I need.

Now back to the weather! Paducah, Kentucky and most of western Kentucky is forecast to have freezing rain throughout the night and tomorrow morning with snow beginning in the early afternoon. A radio station in Paducah has been making regular announcements on school closings throughout the area. Our pretty little white trailer looks like an igloo, all covered in ice. We will see what Interstate 24 looks like in the morning. Nashville, Tennesee is 135 miles from Paducah. The forecast there is for rain with a high of 40 degrees. We can handle that!

Our original plan was to spend December in southern Texas. However, the weather forecast showed temperatures much lower then we were willing to tolerate. We decided to check out a COE campground in Montgomery, Alabama while we make our way down to Panama City Beach, Florida.

Fort Massac Camping Fee: $15.00 per day

Total miles traveled today: 380

Tomorrow another adventure begins.