March, 2017 – Aberdeen, Mississippi

The trip north from Columbus to Aberdeen was another short trip of less than an hour to the next dam and lake on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway.  We pulled into Blue Bluff Campground just after noon and located our back-in site.  They had a few suggestions of other sites that were closer to the lake shore, but we decided to stay with the site we had reserved since those sites would have been more difficult to back into.  Consequently, we were away from the lakeshore and also away from the other campers, which was fine with us.  It did mean the walk to the bathroom was a bit further than we like, especially since there was a small stream directly in the path forcing us to either go around by the road of go past the bathroom to a walking bridge.  Backing into the site did have a different challenge then I had run into before.  The site was up a slight slope which meant I could not see the back of the RV while I was backing up.  I was able to see Kal back there, so we got into the site with no issues.  I am getting better at parking the RV, which meant it took just one shot to get it in where we wanted it!!  Of course, this does not mean it is a straight back-in as it is necessary to pull forward a couple of times in order to swing the truck so it is in front of the RV.  It always puzzles me why you don’t have to do this when we are pulling out, which means there should be a way to back the RV into the site without having to pull forward?  I always have to pull forward in order to straighten out the truck in front of the RV.

Campsite

Once again there was not much to do in the area, which for once was a good thing.  On Tuesday I woke up with a head cold consisting of a runny nose and sneezing.  Thankfully, it only lasted a day and by then the weather had turned cold.  You will probably recall this was the week in mid-March when the east coast from the Carolinas to Maine got significant snowfall culminating in a nor-easter for the northeastern states.  William braced for up to 2 feet of snow in Maryland, although it turned out to be no more than 6 inches with sleet by the time it was all over.  We were thankfully south of the sleet and ice line in southern Tennessee, although we did have the coldest temperatures we had seen all winter.  The night time temperatures plummeted to the mid-20s.  So we were just fine hunkering down in our RV for a couple of days until the temperatures warmed back up into the 60s.  By the time we left the campgrounds on Monday, the day time temperatures were into the mid-80s, which is too warm for this time of year.  Hopefully, this is the last we will see of winter for this year.

Thankfully, this was also the week of the NCAA Basketball Tournament, which meant we had a lot of basketball to keep us occupied.  The main part of the tournament started at 11:00 Thursday morning and lasted until nearly 11:00 at night.  This repeated again on Friday and Saturday.  Sunday was cut short due to CBS desire to show their normal Sunday evening programming.  Although every game of the tournament was shown, we were limited by what CBS decided to show as we did not get TBS or TNT on our over the air antennae.  Neither Auburn nor Texas A&M made the tournament this year, so the only team we really wanted to watch was our home town team, Wichita State University.  Thankfully, CBS decided to show WSU so we did not have to find a sports bar in order to see them play.  While this was nice, it was too bad that the only SEC team that CBS was going to show was Kentucky, with Arkansas, South Carolina, and Florida on other channels.  In any case, we saw a lot of great basketball over this four day period, although there were not the upsets that I have love to watch.  In fact, WSU was the only team to be moderately successful that I rooted for.  Not surprising since I always root for the underdog, unless it is an SEC team (except for Kentucky, which I refuse to root for until the Final Four).

March, 2017 – Columbus, Mississippi

This week was a continuation of the slow trip north through northwestern Alabama and northeastern Mississippi along the Waterway.  Once again the trip was around an hour in length and went the same route north to Columbus that we had traveled last week to the closest Walmart store.  Dewayne Hayes Campground is just a few miles north of Columbus, so we had convenient access to any grocery stores or restaurants we wanted.  It also meant we had great TV reception of the major stations, although for some reason we could not get PBS.  There are only a few pull-thru sites in Dewayne Hayes and these were unfortunately occupied and since we were too soon in the season for reservations, we got to choose any unoccupied site.  We picked a nice back-in site halfway between the two bathroom facilities, that was close enough to the waterway that we could see the barges as they passed by through the trees.

Once again there was not much to do in the area, so it was another week basically spent relaxing in the campgrounds.  The spring weather was up and down with cold fronts coming through every couple of days.  With each front the temperature would drop and we would get rain.  One thunderstorm in the middle of the week woke us both up when limbs banged onto the roof!  The final front on Friday was nearly cold enough for snow, although the snow line did not extend much into Mississippi.  It was still cold and wet.

We did get the bikes out and rode around the campgrounds on the nicer days.  We did laundry and cleaned the RV on Wednesday and Kal went to get a haircut in town on Wednesday afternoon.  I took of on Thursday to play disc golf in a course we saw on our way through Columbus.  It is a nice course with the front 9 meandering through the scattered trees and open undergrowth.  The back 9 went around one of the many baseball complexes in Propst Park and had some really long fairways (par 5).  The day was sunny and warm with little wind and I was having a good time playing the course.  Unfortunately, Propst Park attracts cars with the occupants just sitting in their vehicles during the week.  Although I did not see any transactions, I suspect it was a favorite place for selling drugs.  Since my truck was exposed to these individuals I did not feel comfortable playing the back 9 where I would not be able to see the truck.  So I called the game early and headed back to the campground.

Fairway

As we loading up on Monday to move a little further north, I finally hooked up the sewer line, since we had a sewer hookup available, and found that we still had an issue with the tanks.  Neither tank registered empty after letting them slowly drain for about a half hour.  So we drove around the campgrounds and stopped again at the dump station on the way out.  They did a better job of emptying, but we are still not convinced they were completely empty.  Kal is getting some ideas from other RVers on-line, so we have some more things to try out.

February, 2017 – Aliceville, Alabama

We headed north from Demopolis, staying along the Tombigbee River to the next COE lock and dam at Aliceville Lake to stay at the Pickensville Campground.  It was still too soon in the year for reservations, so we had to pick out a site once we got there.  Not being able to make reservations is not a problem, as there are plenty of sites open in mid-February.  In fact, out of the 176 campsites (it is huge campground with multiple loops), there were only around a dozen occupied.  They have 9 pull-through sites in the campground so we initially walked around to look at them.  All of the sites immediately adjacent to the river were occupied, so we selected a pull-through site with sewer hookups along the entry road into the loop.  We could still see the barges going past, but were far enough that we never noticed their lights after dark.  We had an entire empty campground loop as our backyard so we had plenty of room, which is one of the reasons we like COE campgrounds in the south.

Campsite

After checking on my pins in GoogleEarth, it was obvious this was going to another very quiet week as there were no state parks or other attractions in the immediate area.  So we spent some time when the weather was good during the week riding our bicycles around the many loops in the campground.  We could easily get in a mile of riding without even leaving our own loop and there was another large loop just across the swamp that had bridges spanning it.

As there was not a lot else to do in the area it was a good opportunity to make travel plans and reservations.  I mapped out our route up through Tennessee and Kentucky, but when I began to check the available dates it became obvious that we were traveling north to quickly.  The COE and TVA campgrounds in Tennessee were not even opened until mid-March or the first of April.  It was obvious we needed to slow down which still left us with plenty of time to be in Michigan by the end of June.  So I began by booking an additional week at Pickensville and began a slow move north to Tennessee stopping in nearly every COE campground along the way.  We normally like to travel between 80 and 150 miles between campgrounds, but now we would only be going 30-40 miles from week to week.  Where I had thought we would be near Shiloh Battlefield by mid-March, we will now be getting there in mid-April as I added a month to our trip.  I feel a lot better with our pace now which became obvious in the future as we managed to stay south of the snow in March that blanketed Tennessee.

We did make one trip over to Columbus to a Walmart, which was an hour north and the following day went over to Philadelphia, Mississippi to the Silver Star Casino.  The resort is quite large with a big hotel, cultural center, as well as, the casino.  Inside the casino that are over 1000 slot machines, many of which we have never seen before.  Unfortunately, nearly all of them cost at least 50 cents to play so we had to pick and choose.  Especially since it was mid-day during the week, there were not many people at the casino so we had no problem finding slot machines that we could play for 30 cents or less.  I will admit that it is a lot more fun to at least win once in a while at the slot machines, but this was not the case for me that day.  I managed to lose my stake fairly quickly, although Kal did manage to almost break even.  The best part of the day was the great barbecue place we found for a late lunch, since the Mexican restaurant closed down between lunch and dinner in this small town.  Dickey’s Barbecue Pit is a chain out of Texas, so they even had brisket made the way Kal likes it on the menu.  It certainly was a pleasant surprise to find such good barbecue in Mississippi.

The only other thing to note during our two weeks in Pickensville Campground occurred on the day we were leaving.  We had noticed during the past week at least that our toilet was bubbling every time you flushed it, which indicated there was a problem with the air vents.  Hoping the problem was a clog in the air vent I took our hose up on top to spray water down the vent.  In the meantime, Kal opened up the tanks to drain them.  After spraying water down the vent three times, it did not appear to make a difference.  Once I got down off the roof, it was obvious that the tanks were not draining and the indicators showed them to be nearly full, both the gray and black water tanks.  We went in search of help from the volunteers at the campground, but could not locate anyone that could really help.  One suggestion was to take the hose and push it as far as possible down the toilet and hit the tank with a blast of water.  We tried this three times with no success.  We decided to go ahead and continue on to our next location since we had already stayed our two week limit in this campground.  Kal drove the RV around two of the loops in the hope that this would dislodge the clog and we pulled into the dump station at the campground.  Thankfully, this was successful as both tanks quickly emptied and we were good to go.  Hopefully, this will not continue to be a problem, but we will have to wait and see.  Kal has decided to accept the recommendation of the volunteers and stop putting any toilet paper down the black tank, using a waste paper basket instead.  While this many not be the best overall solution, it should eliminate any future problems with the black tank as we already use the restrooms in the campgrounds for solid wastes.  Part of the fun (?) of living in an RV!!