It is good to be back!
It's been a while – 10 months actually – since I have written a post for Travels With Linda. It's not that we were hiding in a cave or anything, it is simply that life sometimes just gets in the way. For us, this was a good thing – the birth of our third grandchild. We spent the three months of spring in Missouri helping take care of the twins (just three years old) while our daughter gave birth to their baby brother, Benjamin. Then it was home to recuperate – it's hard for old folks to keep up with three year olds.
So after summer at home in Texas catching our breath, we are now on a fall road trip that will include a few weeks with kids. We are meandering up through the Lower Mississippi River Valley. We spent two nights on the Arkansas River, and right now we are beside a small lake in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Our next stop is Paducah, Kentucky on the Ohio River.
Our planned start was delayed for several days as the Houston area was recovering from tropical storm Imelda. While all of the Houston area experienced torrential rains and flash flooding, the hardest hit areas were to the east and north of the city. As a result many of the main roads leading to Louisiana were still closed after the storm with flooding or flood-related damage.
When traveling in the motorhome we try to stay off of the highways when we can, and we try to stop overnight at public parks rather than commercial RV parks. These include national forests, state parks, and Corps of Engineers parks. The scenery generally beats looking over the parking lot of the Hampton Inn. Sometimes convenience does rule our choice such as our regular stop at the RV park for the Coushatta Casino.
Our third night on the road was spent at the delightfully named Chemin-A-Haut state park in Bastrop, Louisiana. We took advantage of a needed run to the local Walmart to have dinner at the Eat-a-Bite restaurant just across the street from the county courthouse. We mix in local restaurants with the chain eateries when traveling as we try to keep our cooking to a minimum. And as travelers rather than campers, we are not into cooking on a grille.
On our way from Chemin-a-Haut to the Pendleton Bend Campground along the Arkansas River, we went through the town of Back Gate – you don't get town names like this along the Interstate – and happened upon Tire Man. Is it any wonder we like to avoid the major highways?
We spent two days at Pendleton Bend, a Corps of Engineers' campground right on the river. We all like a water view, and Linda engineered it so we had one of just three campsites right on top of the levee. Super! We enjoyed watching both the fisherman and the commercial river traffic. And to make things perfect, there were also beautiful sunsets.
The park is located just down the road from two river barge ports; one port is for soybeans and the other handles grains and fertilizers. Tucked in along the river bank were empty barges waiting to be filled. I watched a towboat move down past us and return with one of the empty barges. I surprised it took them only a few minutes to move the barge out from the riverbank, make it fast with lines, and move it into place to be loaded.
I looked out the window and saw a towboat, the Frances Ann, going by, so I grabbed my camera and went outside for a photo or two. Well, the Frances Ann was going to retrieve an empty barge from along the riverbank to take to the loading port. The whole process took only minutes. The four pictures below show the towboat heading toward the barge, moving the barge from the riverbank, and then moving back toward the loading port. Click on any photo to see them full size.
Here are some neat barge facts I found at GreatRiverRoad.com:
"A typical barge carries 1500 tons of cargo, which is 15 times greater than a rail car and 60 times greater than one trailer truck. An average river tow on the Upper Mississippi River is 15 barges consisting of 5 barges tied together and moving 3 abreast. The same load would require a train 3 miles long or line of trucks stretching more than 35 miles."
Now we are in Jonesboro, and this town has an absolutely super city park. It is almost 600 acres of woodlands with a lake at its center. There are all sorts of facilities, including the RV park where we are staying and enjoying another water view. Next we will be on our way to Paducah, Kentucky.
The last couple of days have given us some very nice sunsets, so I will leave you with some of nature's really good stuff. Enjoy.