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Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Unclaimed Baggage 2019 Visit

Stevenson, AL where the SE GTG is held is about 25 miles north of Scottsboro, AL and the Unclaimed Baggage store.  What better day to go thannin a rainy weekday.  Jane and I went as we did last year as we plan a Walmart visit before heading back to the gathering.

We were suprised by how full the parking lot was.

I bought 8 lithium charging blocks.  4 were $.99 each 3 were $.49 each, and one was new and $6.98.  All prices are dated and the price goes down over time.

This is one of the $.99 chargers

You can see the date and price.  

I have since moved on from Alabama and still writing about my travels.  I often give these charging blocks away to those in need.

I was in Washington DC in a Smithsonian and there was a man who was in dire need of charging his phone and the woman who works there discouraged him from plugging in as security comes around and takes them.

I heard of his problem and I was carrying a different $.99 lithium block, and I gave it to him.  He was overwhelmed by my gesture and I told him to pass the gesture along and look to do something good to someone else.

My hiking stock is so long it doesn’t fit in my backpack, so I found this new one for under $8.00.  Now I have a shorter stick to hike with.

If you are in the area, see what you may find that is a bargain.


Monday, April 29, 2019

SE GTG 2019 - Alabama Under The Stars

 My yearly visit to see friends at the SE GTG is always a fun stop.  It’s a nice slow pace and great company with some wonderful people.

The wildlife management folks are so wonderful by mowing the field and even bringing us dry wood.  How could you ask for more.

Here I am parked in the drying field that was quite soggy when I arrived.

When not raining, we have morning and evening camp fires.

One night Dan looked up the passing of the space station so our eyes were to the sky and there it passed over us.

Here I was starting the fire and I’m using a pocket blow tube that Susan gave me as a gift.

Once you get something to smolder, you can blow through the collapsing tube to direct air like a bellows would to accelerate the fire.

It worked great.

A 3 mile hike with Jane took us past fields with flowers that are often used for corn planting to attract birds.  You can hike for about 8 miles straight south on a dirt road with no vehicles.  It also makes for a great bike route too.

I parked next to this other field on the drive out of the WMA.

In the spring in the south you need to be ever mindful for severe weather including tornados.  You need to monitor the weather every day.

Here we are in a like of severe thunderstorms.

If your lucky you may find a few wonderful sunsets over the Tennessee River.

You also get to meet locals that come to fish the River.

There are also the passing of barges bringing empty barges up stream and loaded ones down stream.

The water height is regulated with a dam about 25 miles down stream.  The water can fluctuate by at least 12” morning to evening.  It is possible to have high water but ourbproblem was rain making a soggy field to camp on.

Above I made chicken soup with fresh veggies and chicken.

I even made croutons for the soup.  We didn’t have many at dinner to share it but Jane and I had more than enough to eat.

It was another great year to see old friends and meet a few new ones.  Being from the north I enjoy the southern discussions.


Etowah Disc Golf / Visit With Cousin

As in past years, I take leave of the SE GTG in Alabama for a couple days to visit my cousin in Georgia.

Above is the sunset at the SE GTG looking across the Tennessee River.  Tranquil now after the recent storms and tornado warnings.

I enjoy my drive I take over the mountains on the border of Alabama and Georgia.  It takes me on back roads and through small towns.  It takes 2 hours to get to my cousin’s and I loose an hour crossing the time zone.

A surprise while playing at Etowah Disc Golf course.

I like the course, with special interest on holes 9, 10, & 11 as they are high in the woods with long throws through the trees.

I was the only one on the course and as I reached the 13th tee a car pulled up and I met Sam Barfield, who asked me how I like the course.  

I recited my desire to play the course each year when visiting my cousin, as I enjoy it so much.

He then introduced himself and gave me the card above.  He explained he designed the course and still comes and checks on it from time to time, like today.

That was a first for me to meet a course designer.  I think he was shocked that a guy from Massachusetts would seek out the course to play.

He asked if I participate in tournaments.  I explained that I just enjoy the game and don’t compete other than with myself. 

I had a great game with the wonderful putt above.  The disc in the foreground is where my 2nd throw landed on a par 3.  I took another disc and made the putt.

It was a great game today.

My cousin has a Jeep and just loves to drive it.  Over time she has been doing some upgrades.  This year she replaced the headlights with halo lights.  A halo light puts a LED ring around the headlight.  Her ring color is red.

Above is an example of the halo headlight replacement from Amazon.

I had a wonderful time visiting my cousin and family.  She is a proud grandmother this year and I enjoyed the time shared with them.

Time to head back to SE GTG and more Disc Golf Friendship and Family time.


Saturday, April 27, 2019

Four Wheel Camper Tie-down Breaks

It happened last year and it happened again this year.

That is the front passenger FWC camper tie-down bolt broke.

I arrived at the SE GTG in Stevenson, AL and noticed the camper was a bit crooked in the bed of the truck.  On the way east I had checked it and it was aligned.

After last year’s bolt breaking, I was carrying spare parts.  I had order spare bolts from FWC but the square under the carriage bolt didn’t fit in the plate that distributes the bolt head over a larger area.  The plate not only distributes the stress it also keeps the bolt from rotating.  The new bolts have spiked washers that can’t be used with the aluminum plate.

I decided to replace the bolt with a like part.

Replacing the bolt and threaded eye that the turnbuckle ties to under the camper is the easy part.  The tough part is reconnecting the turnbuckle.  The problem is that there is not much space for your hand to work the turnbuckle.

I tried new turnbuckles in the front this year withbacking nuts and it creates a bit more work but it kept them from lucening as they did last year.  That was an improvement.

In the picture above you can see the turnbuckle is at an angle and hookedvto the threaded eye at an angle.  Thus this puts angular stress on the bolt and this stress will snap the bolt.  Im going to look at a different method of putting the stress on the bolt across the bolt thickness vs the eye that hangs down and pulling the bolt threads on an angle.

The tiedown system of the FWC is often discussed in blogs and Facebook about the same thing happening.

The problem is that without the 4 jacks there is no way easily to realign the camper in the bed.  So, I just leave the camper a bit on an angle after the bolt is replaced.

There is no problem as there is not much play once the camper is in the bed of the truck.


Thursday, April 25, 2019

Illinois to Alabama / SE GTG / Tornado Warning

I said goodbye to my aunt where I’m I stayed two nights in McHenry, IL on Sunday AM.  I choose to leave Sunday morning to get through Chicago with least traffic.

This year I took a new route and drive straight through to the SE GTG in Stevenson, AL.  It was a long day.  Through Chicago, to Indianapolis, IN, past Louisville, KY, then Bowling Green, KY and on to Nashville, TN I drove.  Finally turning south before Chattanooga, TN to Stevenson.

Friends Jane, Trish, and Rob and Karen were the ones there and the rain was on the way.

In fact severe weather was headed our way and a tornado had already occurred in MIssissippi.

It was early in the AM, before we all get up when Dan and Brenda, who were south of us had high winds and they sought shelter in Guntersville, AL

They sent us all notice in Messenger as there was a tornado warning.  Above was the warning cone.  I had left my roof down because of bad weather, and got up and in my cab and started driving to the tornado shelter in town across from the laundromat.

It turned out that Dan and Brenda were in the area of the tornado.  Oh no!  Glad there were ok.

Above the heart pin is the tornado shelter.  As I arrived the warning went away so I didn’t need to get in the shelter and went back to GTG.

I had checked out shelters in Stevenson my first year here and this was the first time I ran for shelter.  Tornados mean business.


Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Arkansas to Missouri to Illinois

After my day in Fort Smith Arkansas I found a Army Corp of Engineers (ACE) campground nearby.

ARC camping is cost effective with my senior National Parks Pass as I get 50% off the cost to stay.  Usually paying $10 per night.

I enjoy ACE campgrounds.

Above here I am Piedmont Park, the next ARC campground in southern MO next to Mark Twain National Forest.

As I headed north from Southern MO towards Hannibal, MO I stopped to play disc golf in Rolla, MO with a beautiful Lions Club Park.  

It was good to throw discs again as the Bluff area of Utah doesn’t have any places to play.

Here I am at my secondary spot south of Hannibal overlooking the Mississippi River.  Down lower I have camped before but the last few years the River has been in flood stage as I come through.

I stayed 2 nights.

In Hannibal I got to play disc golf again between spring showers.

This picture of the Mississippi to my right is about ready to crest over the road.  The barricades are off the side of the road and ready to be put up.  One train track is partly under water to my right.

Here is the flooring map and showers adding to the runoff.

I needed to get my Tacoma serviced so I went across Mississippi to Quincy, Illinois to the dealer there.  I would have gone back to MO for the throes night but decided to comp myself a night in a motel and see the town of Quincy.  Here is a museum I chose to check out.

It’s all about the history of Quincy and it’s a beautifully restored house.

My night in 2nd floor of Comfort Suites looking at my Camper.  I had points to pay for the night from itravel I do other times of the year.

In the morning I drove to my aunt’s, as I do each year, in Mc Henry, IL.  I met a woman on my travels this year that was from McHenry.

I’ll spend 2 nights with her.  We will talk and catch up on family, go out to eat, drive to Wisconsin a few miles up IL31 and buy my oldest son in MD a case of Spotted Cow.

It was great to see here and this year it wasn’t in the teens at night.  I’ll take 40’s anyway at night after last year.

On yo the SE GTG next.


Sunday, April 21, 2019

Fort Smith, Arkansas NHS

Fort Smith National Historic Site is in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

I’m 3 days out of Utah making my way east and I have only driven through Arkansas.  What a better time to stop than on a nice spring day.

At one time this was the edge of the western wilderness and lawlessness.  Here stands the Federal Court for the land where justice was discharged.

The beautiful Redbuds in bloom.

The inside of the courthouse is now a museum and my Senior National Park Pass got me in for free.

Posters of movies made from stories from the history here.

The basement was the Federal Jail. Waiting for trial or execution.

The interpretive items hand on the second floor gallery.

The courtroom.

Now outside checking out the gallows.

I wondered how the trap door dropped on the gallows.

Down by the Arkansas River and first location of the fort, no longer standing.

The stores building - here is was where supplies were stored for the area forts.

Inside the stores building.

The train station is no longer there but here is a picture of what it was like as a hub to the west.

I encourage all travelers to check out other federal sites other than National Parks.  National Historic Sites, National Monuments, and National Wildlife Areas are three well worth seeing.

I bet there is one near you.