October, 2017 – Somerset, Kentucky

The trip southwest from Moorehead was mostly along I-64 and I-75, so it was a easy pull of a couple of hours.  Our new location was a Corps of Engineers campgrounds, Fishing Creek Campground, on Lake Cumberland.  It turns out that the campground is only a couple of miles west of Somerset, which is a fair sized city.  Consequently we had good grocery stores and a nice sports bar for the upcoming Auburn game.  Unfortunately, we were too far from any major cities and Somerset did not have its own stations, so we were limited to PBS and a CW station out of Tennessee.  Once again I am pleased with staying at a COE campground.  Not only it is inexpensive, but it was very nice.  The sites were very spacious with views of Fishing Creek, a tributary to Lake Cumberland.  The roads were paved and the sites were gravel with a large area for picnic table and fire ring.  It was strange that each site was laid out with wire cages filled with rocks that made each site look like you were staying in old Indian ruins like you would find at Bandoleer National Park in New Mexico.  Those sites overlooking the river were actually constructed with these stone cages to level them for RVs.  The only negative about our site, which was across the road from the river, was the slope into the site.  I had to back the RV up a fair slope to the relatively level area at the top of the site.  I had plenty of room in front of the truck, so I did not have much problem backing it in, although it makes it more difficult when all I can see in the rearview mirrors is the ground behind me.  The other problem with the site was we had to pull all the way through the campground to get the RV going in the right direction to back into the angled site.  Since the dump station was in the center of the campground next to the bathroom, this meant it was not going to be possible to dump our tanks when we left.  This was only a problem for the three sites on our side of the road, but we happened to have one of them!  Except for this, this is another great COE campground.

Campsite

We didn’t have any specific reason for visiting this part of Kentucky, so on Tuesday we decided to check out the Richmond Battlefield for which we saw a sign for on the Interstate.  We assumed it was a Civil War battlefield and expected to spend a couple of hours learning about a relatively minor battle in Kentucky.  What we found was anything but the case.  By all rights this should be a National Battlefield instead of a county park and they are in the process of being accepted by the National Park Service.  While Kentucky is not thought of being a major player in the Civil War it was very important early in the Civil War.  Kentucky choose to remain neutral in the Civil War and President Lincoln believed Kentucky to be one of the keys to the war.  This neutrality did not last very long as the Union occupied Paducah and the Confederacy occupied Bowling Green in the fall of 1861.  In the February of 1862, Grant captured Fort Donelson and Fort Henry on the Tennessee River and Cumberland Rivers, respectively.  This led to the Confederate defeat at Shiloh in April and the siege of Corinth in May.  With this string of Union victories the Union had split the Confederacy in Tennessee.  However, the Confederacy was far from defeated.  In response, the Confederacy under the command of General Braxton Bragg led an invasion of Kentucky.  This was to be a two pronged attack with Bragg leading his Army of Mississippi north from Chattanooga and General Kirby Smith leading 19,000 Confederates from Knoxville in August of 1862.  Their intention was to “liberate” Kentucky from the Union “invasion” with the belief that Kentucky would then join the Confederacy and countering the Union victories in western Tennessee.  Smith choose not to attack the Union garrison that were well defended in the Cumberland Gap.  Instead he bypassed the Gap to the west leaving about half of his army to bottle up the garrison.  With his remaining men his goal was Lexington and the Kentucky capital at Frankfort.  Whereas, many of his men were veterans from Shiloh and Corinth, the Union forces under the command of General William “Bull” Nelson were raw recruits with no battle experience and little training.  Knowing Smith was on the move, Nelson ordered Generals Manson and Cruft to move their brigades to defensive positions along the Kentucky River.  However, these orders were delayed and by then they were south of this position in Richmond.  On August 23, Confederate cavalry routed a small Union force at Big Hill and General Cleburne reached this location on August 29.  At dawn on August 30, Cleburne advanced up the Old State Road towards Richmond when they came under fire from Manson’s artillery.  Smith ordered him to hold this position until General Churchill could move his brigade up a draw out of sight on the Union right flank.  For the next 1.5 hours they traded artillery shells until Churchill charged out of the draw collapsing the Union flank.  The inexperienced Union soldiers broke and ran north towards Richmond.  The rest of the day was spent with the Confederates pressuring the retreating Union forces, routing them two more times before reaching Richmond.  By this time in the afternoon, Bull Nelson had arrived on the scene and made one last stand at the Richmond cemetery.  The Confederates spread out into a line over a half mile wide and advanced on the cemetery.  After three volleys the Union line broke yet again and they fled through the town.  However, by this point Cleburne had sent his cavalry around to the Union rear and ended up capturing nearly the entire Union army.  This was the most complete Confederate victory of the Civil War with the capture, wounded, and death of over 4,000 Union soldiers.  Without any further resistance, Smith was able to occupy Frankfort, the only Union state capital to fall during the war.  However, coordination with Braxton Bragg to the West left a lot to be desired and Smith did not continue to support Bragg.  Later in October, Bragg was defeated at Perryville and consequently the Confederates ended up retreating back to Tennessee.  I hate to think the reason this is not a National Battlefield is because it was a Confederate victory instead of a Union victory.  It was certainly as important a battle as many that we have visited.

Since the Richmond battlefield is not a single location but spread out over miles in Kentucky as the Confederates chased the Union army throughout the day, it is more a driving tour then anything else.  Also due to the fact that the Blue Grass Army Depot covers much of the actual battlefield and is inaccessible, there is not a lot to actually see.  Our GPS led us to the farmhouse where the battle started on August 30.  This farmhouse was in the center of the battlefield which was mostly an artillery barrage with cannonballs screaming overhead.  There is a nice paved walkway around the farm with numerous interpretive signs about this first stage of the battle.  There is also a side trail with an overlook of the ravine that is today known as Churchill Ravine.  Only a small part of the ravine is still untouched as most of it is now a golf course.  As we proceeded north, we found the next stop on the tour at the Zion Church where the Union artillery was positioned and where Churchill attacked the Union right flank beginning the Union rout.  Finally, we came to the center of the “battlefield” and the Richmond Battlefield Visitor Center at what was then known as Rogersville.  They have a very nice Visitor Center with interesting exhibits and videos about the battle.  They had a video that was a 4-minute history of the Civil War, which was nothing more than a map and timeline that showed the progression of the war.  You watch the Union/Confederate line shift over time as major battles and events explode on the map.  They also keep a running total of casualties as it increases throughout the war.  I had a couple of questions about the battle and ended up talking at length with the gentleman running the Visitor Center.  After discussing what we have learned about the Civil War over the past 3 years and trading stories, he asked me if I would like to see their latest acquisition.  After telling me the story of how they acquired it, he showed me their recent purchase of General Bull Nelson’s Commission signed by the Secretary of War, Stanton, and President Abraham Lincoln.  It was in excellent condition and very neat to see.  It turns out that Nelson never received this commission as he was killed just a month following his defeat by a subordinate General that criticized his lack of leadership during the battle.  Once I finally got out of the Visitor Center, we only had about an hour to explore the battlefield, of which there was just the cemetery in Richmond where Nelson made his final stand before escaping.  Unfortunately, the entrance gate to the cemetery was obviously too narrow for our truck, so we decided to head back to the campground after stopping at Kroger on our way back.

It looked like the week was going to be another week of Civil War battles, as we learned about the Battle of Mill Springs the day before.  It turned out that this battle occurred just north of the Cumberland River and was just a couple of miles from the campground.  Once again the battlefield is a county park, but in this case they have a very nice, new Visitor Center.  Along with a very good video, they had a series of exhibits using mannequins and many artifacts from the battlefield.  This battlefield was not as spread out, but they still had a nice driving tour of the critical locations.  The Battle of Mill Springs was earlier in the Civil War in January of 1862 before Grant had captured Forts Donelson and Henry.  At this point the Confederates had a thinly defended line extending across from Memphis, through Bowling Green, and ending at the Cumberland Gap.  In October, General Felix Zollicoffer (what a name!) left Knoxville into Kentucky to improve their defense between Bowling Green and the Cumberland Gap.  General Crittenden had ordered Zollicoffer to create a winter camp on the south bank of the Cumberland River which had high bluffs to aid in the defense.  However, Zollicoffer thought a peninsula in the Cumberland River would be more defensible with water protecting three sides.  He moved his army of 6500 men to the north bank and began building earthen fortifications a mile in length with three redoubts called Beech Grove.  The soldiers also constructed over 3000 small wooden cabins as they expected to spend the winter there.  However, the Union was concentrating their forces under General Schoepf at Somerset and General Thomas at Lebannon.  To counter this position, Thomas ordered joining both forces at Fishing Creek to the west of Somerset.  Once again both sides decided on attacks during some of the worst weather of the winter.  Heavy rains had swollen Fishing Creek and Zollicoffer believed it was impassable.  So he decided to attack Thomas before Schoepf could make the crossing and left his stronghold in Beech Grove on January 19, 1862.  Thomas had pickets out south of Logan’s Crossroads to watch for any Confederate movement and so was not surprised when the leading Confederates engaged the pickets.  The distance from Beech Grove to Logan’s Crossroads was only 9 miles, but it took them 6.5 hours to make the march due to the miserable conditions.  Over the next hour the battle continued to grow as more troops made it from both sides and unfortunate for Zollicoffer, Schoepf had been able to cross Fishing Creek so the sides were roughly equal.  Partly, due to the inexperience of both sides, the heavy rains and fog, and the smoke and noise of battle, this battlefield was mostly one of confusion on both sides.  Believing some of his troops were firing on their own side, Zollicoffer moved forward to order them to cease firing.  Unfortunately, these soldiers were Union and once the mistake was realized they exchanged fire and Zollicoffer was killed.  Partly due to the lack of leadership with the death of Zollicoffer, the inability to effectively use artillery due to the fog and smoke, and the old flintlocks of the Confederates that misfired in the heavy rain, the Confederates never stood a chance.  After a charge by the Ohio 9th Ohio who was a regiment of experienced German veterans on the Confederate left flank, the Confederate line collapsed from left to right.  They beat a hasty retreat back to the defenses at Beech Grove dropping much of their gear on the way.  Once back in Beech Grove, they realized their mistake.  The river effectively kept them from retreating further and the low position near the river opened them up to Union artillery.  The Union bombarded the camp throughout the night with plans to capture them in the morning.  However, General Crittenden spent the night ferrying the remainder of his army back across the Cumberland River and by morning all the Union found were all the supply wagons and cannons.  The Confederates burned the steamboat Noble Ellis so the Union had no way to pursue them further.  At the time this was the greatest Federal victory in the war and was famous.  However, today the battle is largely forgotten.

From the Visitor Center, which is also the location of the Mill Springs National Cemetery, we proceeded south towards the Cumberland River.  The first stop on the tour was the Confederate Cemetery where General Zollicoffer was killed.  The white oak he was leaned against while he died was known as the “Zollie Tree” until it was killed by lightning in 1995.  In the early 1900s it was decorated faithfully with a wreath by Dorotha Hudson, a tradition carried on for three generations.  This was in response to the recognition of Union deaths on Memorial Day every year.  Unlike the Union dead who were moved to the National Cemetery following the war, the Confederates were simply put into a mass grave at this site.  Today there are individual gravestones serving as place markers, both of which are still at this location.  There is a nice trail that goes around the ravine the Confederates used to try and attack the Union at the fence line, mostly unsuccessfully since their muskets would not fire.  From here the tour follows the retreat of the Confederates down to Beech Grove.  At Beech Grove you can still see some of the depressions of the thousands of wooden huts since they would sink them into the ground for insulation against the winds.  However, there is no evidence of the earthen fortifications since the Union army destroyed and filled them in following the battle.  While the next stop on the tour was the ferry landing where we ate lunch overlooking Lake Cumberland, it was not the last stop on the tour.  The tour continues for two more stops on the other side of the Lake, but since it was a 30 mile drive back to Somerset in order to cross the lake, we decided against it.  The other two stops were old homes used as headquarters and hospital following the battle, as well as, a working grist mill at the small town of Mill Springs.  It is interesting to note that for the Union the battle was known as Mill Springs, which was to the south of the actual battle and for the Confederates it was known as Fishing Creek which is to the north of the battle.  Why would both sides name the battle based on locations they never reached or occupied?  Why was it not know as the Battle of Logan’s Crossroad where it was actually fought?

Thursday was another beautiful day, but I was not able to convince Kal to make the over an hour trip north to the Battle of Perryville.  Instead she wanted to do something different so we headed southeast to Cumberland Falls State Resort Park.  As the name implies this state park is along the Cumberland River in the Boone National Forest.  We had heard that the falls on the river were well worth the time to visit and was even known as the “Niagara of the South.”  While it is a fantastic waterfall, it is only 65 feet and 100-300 feet wide depending upon the amount of water.  It is horseshoe in shape, but it is nowhere near as impressive as the sheer size of Niagara Falls.  Of course, all they have in Kentucky is a major river, whereas Niagara Falls has a series of Great Lakes to feed it.  We began our exploration of the falls with a mile hike around the fancy lodge at the top of the plateau created by the CCC in the 1930s.  It was a nice walk, although the long set of stairs back up to the lodge was more than we had bargained for.  After driving back down to the river we took a look at the falls.  Besides the fact that they are a well known falls, the real reason for their international fame is the “moonbow.”  On a clear night of a full moon, especially during the winter and spring when the air is crisp, you can see a phenomenon called the moonbow.  This is essentially a rainbow caused by the moon reflecting off the spray.  While you can sometimes see colors, mostly it is described as a white band of light over the river.  Unfortunately, we had missed the full moon for the month and we were not about to stay until after dark, so we did not see the moonbow.  We are disappointed too, but you just can’t do everything.  In any case, after a long lunch in the picnic area overlooking the river, we headed back to the campgrounds.

Friday was our day for laundry and cleaning the RV, so it was a day spent in the campground.  Saturday would be a day for watching college football, however, they don’t show much on PBS or CW.  So if we wanted to watch any football, we had to find a sports bar.  After checking with a couple from the area in the campgrounds, we found a local sports bar in Somerset named Muggsbee’s.  The game was not until 6:30 so I had most of the day to work on this blog.  We choose a nice booth with a great view of the game on three TVs and ordered a late dinner.  Auburn was playing Arkansas and from the first was in control of the game.  However, after LSU came back the week before, we were not going to leave until it was certain.  This was a large sports bar broken up into three areas.  We were eating in the middle area, but the front area was turned into a dance floor during the second half of the game.  Suddenly we had very loud disco music to deal with along with occasional lights from a disco ball.  Thankfully, they did not turn out the lights or the TVs in our area of the bar, so we could still watch the game when not covering our ears.  Still it was an interesting way to watch a football game and Auburn won handily.  So all was good!!

Sunday was just another day in the campground as the weather continued to worsen with forecasts for rain overnight and through Monday.

October, 2017 – Moorehead, Kentucky

Our trip southwest from Ohio into Kentucky was mostly along I-64, so the drive was quite pleasant, even though it was still very wet from all the rain the week before.  From the Forest Service Campground in Ohio, I had planned to stay at another Forest Service Campground in Boone National Forest named Zilpo campground near Moorehead, Kentucky.  It was too late in the season to make a reservation at Zilpo, so we were fairly certain we would be able to get a campsite for the week since we would be arriving on Monday.  However, when the GPS suddenly warned us there was 8 miles of dirt road on our route once we left the interstate and the roads back into the campground on a peninsula of a large lake, I began to get worried.  What with the recent rains, I was not comfortable with trusting the RV on 8 miles of dirt roads deep in the woods with likely no place to get turned around if we got into trouble.  Since we did not have reservations anyway, we decided to look for other options.  We passed a sign for an RV park called Outpost Campground along US 60 and decided to pull around in an abandoned gas station to check it out.  Although it looked old with a lot of old seasonal RVs that had better days, we figured we had stayed in worse places.  Thankfully, they eventually determined there was a pull-through site we could use for the week and thankfully it was not in the swampy area of the campground.  It turned out to be a large pull-through site with full hookups (50 amps) that had been used previously by a long term camper.  Still it was easy enough to get into once Kal decided the truck could pull the RV through the mud as it cut the turn onto the gravel on the site.  The only drawback was the placement of the water hookup, which was on the wrong side of the RV.  We were sharing the hookup with the seasonal camper next to us and there was already a long hose attached to our hookup, which had to run under the camper.  The only problem was that the hookup was too close to the side of our RV and initially the slide out on that side ran into it before it was fully extended.  This is the first time this had ever happened on that side of the RV.  So we had to hook up the truck again and push the RV back until it cleared.  We would just have to be careful when we exited the RV no to run into the post, especially at night.  The other drawback was they had placed us as far away from the office as possible, which meant the walk to the bathroom was further then normal.  Like the rest of the campground, the bathrooms were old, but reasonably clean and we have certainly stayed at worst.  It was also amusing to look at the extensive decorations they were constructing for Halloween.  Around the back of the restrooms and up the backside they had created a series of “scary” scenes with numerous mannequins in all kinds of state of gore with appropriate painted backdrops and artifacts.  It was going to be a great show for this RV park out in the country.  I don’t know what else they had planned for Halloween, but it was obvious they took it VERY seriously.

We really did not have anything planned to do in the area, so we spent the next couple of days in the campground.  With good TV reception and a good free Wi-Fi connection, we were well entertained.  However, by Thursday I just had to get out so I convinced Kal to travel close to Lexington to Fort Boonesborough State Park.  As the name implies, this was the original fort established by Daniel Boone when he opened up Kentucky to settlers in 1775 by establishing the Wilderness Trail through the Cumberland Gap.  This fort was built for two purposes.  First, it was the initial home for new settlers as they located suitable land, built their own homes, cleared the fields, and planted their first crop.  Consequently, the Fort was essentially a series of small one-room homes set out in a rectangle with wooden stockades between the homes and blockhouses at each corner.  They have reconstructed the fort from old drawings and it is very strange looking.  Most of the walls are the back walls of the homes with horizontally placed logs.  Between the homes are vertical logs forming the palisade.  Inside the fort is also strange as you don’t find normal structures for a community, such as a store, church, or storehouses.  Instead all you see are a blacksmith shop and gunpowder magazine in the center of the fort and small homes around the outside.  Other structures would be built outside the fort as the second purpose of the fort was for defense against the Indians when needed.  For the next couple of years, Daniel Boone was in command of the fort with the outbreak of the Revolutionary War in the east.  For the most part, the Revolutionary War had very little impact on the settlers except for the fact the British were supplying weapons and supplies to the Native Americans to raid the Kentucky settlements.  Most of these raids consisted of destroying crops with the hope of starving out the settlers.  Consequently, food was getting scarce during the winter of 1777-1778.  In January, Boone led a party of 30 men to the salt springs on the Lick River to obtain much needed salt to preserve what they had left.  Boone and the entire party was captured by Chief Blackfish of the Shawnee Indians.  While most of the men were sent on to Fort Detroit for the British bounty, Boone and a few others were adopted into the tribe, which was a common practice to replace fallen warriors.  Supposedly, Boone was well treated and spent the rest of the winter with the tribe in Ohio at their camp at Chiilicothe.  However, in June when Boone learned of their plans to attack Fort Boonesborough he escaped and went to warn them.  Since he had surrendered his men to the Indians and was subsequently adopted by them, the general belief was that he had changed loyalties and now supported the British.  Consequently, his wife and family had been forced to move back to North Carolina and he was no longer in command of the fort.  So when Blackfish finally showed up with a sizable force of Indians in September, the fort was ready for them.  After a failed attempt at negotiations with the Indians the fort was under siege for the next 8 days.  The attacking Indians had no cannon to destroy the fort, so they attempted to burn it down with torches.  However, they were easy targets for the defending men in the fort and heavy fall rains hampered their efforts.  Although Boone was found innocent of charges of treason for his time with the Indians, he left to get his family from North Carolina and established a new settlement away from the fort known as Boone Station.

Although I was disappointed that the reconstructed fort is only close to the original location, which is still a matter of debate about its exact location, they have done a wonderful job in the reconstruction.  While some of the homes are on display as they would have been used at the time, most of them are now working places for local artisans.  We were surprised to find many of these artisans to be working during the week in mid-October, until we realized it is a popular place for school field trips.  Once the grade school classes left after noon, we had the run of the place pretty much to ourselves.  We really enjoyed spending time with the various artisans that included a weaver, a soap maker, a candle make, a leather worker, and a gunsmith.  Or at least Kal really enjoyed this, as I ended up spending most of my time in their museum in one of the blockhouses.  They had quite a few exhibits and a lot to read about the history of the fort beginning with the reasons why opening up Kentucky to settlement was so important to the early settlers.  Land was becoming scarce east of the Appalachians and much of the land had been overused for agriculture as well.  Instead of dividing up the land to the children, it was again becoming common to pass all the land to the oldest as it had been dome for centuries in Europe.  Thus there was a growing demand for new land to settle west of the Appalachians.  Land speculators such as the Transylvania Company that hired Daniel Boone to open the Wilderness Road were big business.

The rest of the week and the weekend were fairly boring as we spent time doing laundry, cleaning the camper, and playing on our devices with the free internet.  We did not even leave the campground to watch the Auburn football game, as the Auburn-LSU game was on CBS which we watched over the airways.  I should also mention that the weather stayed wet with two more cold fronts during the week that brought showers and temperatures at night into the 40s.  Hopefully, this weather will convince the trees that it is fall and we can see some serious fall colors over the next few weeks.

October, 2017 – Ironton, Ohio

Since the main reason to travel east to near the Ohio – West Virginia border was to get reasonably close to Maryland last week, this trip was primarily west and a little south to put us back on line with traveling south for the winter.  We literally followed the Ohio River, staying in Ohio, for a couple of hours to a USFS campground near Ironton, Ohio.  Now that we are getting back into the southeast, the number of federal campgrounds with the COE and USFS will increase and I have reservations for the next couple of months.  We can hopefully start saving some money every month again since the camping fees will be less than $20 a night instead of the $35-$40 we have been spending all summer.  This also means we will be further away from metropolitan centers and TV and phone reception will be more of an issue.  It also means we are more concerned with our GPS getting us into trouble pulling the RV.  Sometimes it is bad back roads and sometimes leading us to the wrong location.  So far, we have been able to get turned around when this happens.  Thankfully, the GPS led us directly to the campground, although it was a pull to get the RV up the winding road to the top of the hill above Lake Vesuvius to the campground.  Once we got there we passed the dump station and one loop of the campground without coming up to an entrance station.  We did know our site number, 25, and since we had no choice but to continue we drove into the main loop.  By this point the road, which at least was paved, was a single lane one-way road winding through the trees.  The turns were very tight and we had to be careful with some trees leaning over the road.  Once we got to the back of the loop the site numbers were still in the 20s and it was obvious our site was not on this loop.  I walked around to make sure and even checked the bulletin board at the rest room without finding a site map.  There were a couple of volunteers camping on this loop, but nobody was home.  There were not very many rigs in the campgrounds, but there was one with the couple at home.  They were not sure where site 25 was located and did not think the numbers went that high.  Thankfully, by this point, Kal had got our hot spot working and looked up the campgrounds finding a site map.  It turned out that site 25 was on the loop we had passed coming in, so we carefully made our way back down to that loop.  It turned out that if we had just checked this loop our first instead of trying to find an entrance station, we would have saved us a lot of grief, as site 25 was the first site on the right in the loop.  It was a very nice paved pull-through site overlooking the woods as the slope dropped off towards the lake.  We were able to get the RV quickly leveled and set up.  Although it did not have a sewer hoopkup, there was water and 50 amp electrical service.  While the main loop had a nice flush bathroom facility, this loop had nothing more than a pit toilet.  It would have been quite a walk to the other loop, so we just used the pit toilet all week.  When we pulled in there was only one other camper on the loop and they pulled on Tuesday morning.  For a couple of nights we had the loop completely to ourselves and the wildlife.  Kal was sure she heard some coyotes yipping at the moon one night!!  However, by the weekend the loop was packed and since Monday was Columbus day, it stayed that way until we pulled out.  While the hilltop improved the TV reception and we had all the major stations, the remote location made phone reception very spotty.  Consequently, our internet connection was also useless for much of the day.  I guess there has to be a price to pay for staying a week in such a beautiful location near the Ohio River.

Campsite

We really did not have any pressing reason for staying at this location in Ohio, so we spent most of the week just relaxing in the campground.  Wednesday was laundry day and since the RV had been cleaned before we went to see William, I decided it did not really need to be cleaned and went with Kal into Ironton to find a laundromat.  We found a nice one and spent a couple of hours doing the laundry and going to the store.  I convinced Kal to get a late lunch at a Mexican restaurant next to Kroger since it was the beginning of the month.  On Thursday, we went to check out the nearby Vesuvius Furnace which was an iron furnace from the 1800s.  All that remains today is the stone furnace, although it was a large enterprise at one time employing hundreds of workers before it closed down in 1906.  It was one of 69 iron furnaces in the area and was a major industry at the time.  From the furnace we explore the shores of Lake Vesuvius along an 8 mile loop trail around this long and narrow lake.  As it was along the lakeshore the trail was fairly level and an easy walk.  After about 1.5 miles, we turned around and returned to the truck after a very pleasant walk.

The only other thing we did, besides relaxing at the campsite was to head into a nearby Buffalo Wild Wings in Ironton.  Friday evening we caught the US Men’s Soccer team defeat Panama in a must win for World Cup qualification.  It was a great game with the US winning 4-0 in a convincing win that greatly improved our chances to qualify.  I should also mention that once they found out we were interested in the game, they put us in a booth that had its own TV!!  Although there was no sound, it was a great way to watch the game without anyone getting in the way of the picture!!  We liked it so much that we returned the next day at noon to watch the Auburn football game on our own private TV.   We only stayed through the first half, as Auburn was totally dominating Ole Miss in the game.  The weather forecast on Saturday was for rain late in the day and Sunday would be rain all day as the remnants of Hurricane Nate going right over us.  While they were correct about the rain, it was much less than they had predicted with Nate dropping between 1-2 inches of rain.  However, all day Sunday was heavy fog and light rain, which was the first time we had experienced a completely foggy day on our travels.  At times you could not even see across the road to the other campers who by then had filled the campground.  Thankfully, Nate moved faster than originally predicted, so by Monday morning we were able to hook up the RV without being rained on.

September, 2017 – Parkersburg, West Virginia and Hampsted, Maryland

We traveled east along US 50 from Chillicothe, Ohio to just west of Parkersburg, West Virginia to our next location at Carthage Gap Campgrounds.  We had reservations for two weeks instead of the normal single week for the singular purpose of dropping off the RV and traveling on to see our new grandson in Maryland.  In fact, the only reason we went this far east this year was to be within 5 hours of William’s house.  We spent Tuesday doing laundry, cleaning the RV, and packing for our trip.  We got an early start on Wednesday (9 am, which is early for me!) and drove 5 hours further east, mostly along Interstates.  The trip actually took just over 6 hours with rest stops and lunch along the way.  We pulled into William’s around 3 in the afternoon and spent that first evening just marveling at our new grandson.

Campsite

For those of you that do not know, this is our first grandchild and could be our only grandchild.  You can bet we plan to spoil this kid as much as we can over the next few years.  I am very proud of both William and Kristin who have gotten off to a great start.  In fact, William had taken maternity leave from the time of birth up until we arrived and planned on working only a few days while we were there.  I know how important this can be for a new father, as I was in graduate school when our first, Jenny, was born and got to spend as much time with her as Kal did.  They seem to be adjusting well to their new situation, although they were both tired from the lack of sleep.  We hope we were able to help out with this while we were there, at least during the day.  Instead of giving a daily log of what we did, I am going to depart from normal and just talk about our 9 days in general terms.  As expected, most of the time was centered around the new baby, who at 3 weeks was still mostly feeding, changing, and comforting both him and the new parents.  Kal jumped right into assisting with the changing and after a couple of times was once again an expert.  I, on the other hand, managed to steer clear, although I am proud to say that William probably changed him more than anyone else.  Since Kristin pretty much handled the feeding (breast feeding) this left my duties to comforting and support.  Since this is likely the best part I took advantage of most opportunities that came my way.  Both Kal and I are going to miss watching the little one grow up, especially his first year, but we intend to see them at least twice a year.  My wish is that they make a trip every summer to wherever we are in our travels at the very least.

I suppose I will mention what else we accomplished during this time, although it wasn’t much.  The day after we arrived their dishwasher sprung a leak and after determining is was over 15 years old, they decided to buy a new one.  So William and I installed a new dishwasher, which surprisingly had no unexpected issues except for a part to connect the water to the dishwasher which was not included with the dishwasher.  Since there was no way to know this until you opened up the box and read the installation instructions, it meant an additional trip to Lowe’s to find the part.  We also worked on his patio door which had settled and was not closing properly.  In addition, Kal mowed their lawn, which is not a chore for her as she LOVES to drive their small tractor, and I got out the weedeater to trim around the yard.  Once I figured out how to install more line it was not a problem to get it done before William returned from a half day at work.  Kal and I also helped out around the house, especially doing the dishes until the dishwasher was replaced.  I did take the truck in to be serviced, which cost over $1000 again because it was time to have the transmission flushed.  It is getting to the point that I dread taking the truck in for service as there always seems to be other needed maintenance that inflates the cost to over a grand!!  We also finalized our car tags with Alabama, which you are supposed to be able to do online.  We completed the process online last year, but for some reason their online system would not accept our insurance information for the RV.  I suspect this was once again because they believe all RVs have engines and so we did not have the minimum coverage for a vehicle on it.  We had Phil mail the registration card to William so we wrote out a check and mailed it to Alabama.  Even though their information did not show a fee for a mailing a check, Kal sent in $10 extra to cover the cost.  It turns out they could not accept the check as it was for the wrong amount.  In any case, they called us and Kal was able to put the entire amount on our credit card, which made them and us very happy.  Next year, we know what to do, simply send in a random amount on a check and they will call us.  There was certainly no indication on the card or their webpage that we could take care of it over the phone!!  We were even able to change the mailing address for the tags to my sister’s in Tennessee where we will be by the end of the month, which also could not have been done on their webpage.  Consequently, we will have legal tags by the time we get to Alabama, since they expired the end of September.  Of course, these activities did not take up all of our time.  We also found time to play a number of board games and even a couple games of spades, which is a family favorite.  It was a great 9 days and we could have wished it was longer, but we needed to clear out since Kristin’s parents, Doug and Lynn, were coming in on Sunday for their two week visit with their first grandchild.

On Saturday, we regretfully drove the 6 hours back to Ohio and our RV, which appeared to be none the worse for being abandoned for the better part of two weeks.  Sunday was spent relaxing in the campground as we once again got our head around the fact that we had to leave on Monday to go back to the west and continue our journey to the Gulf Coast.