Life on the Open Road (April 2006 - May 2008)

The continuing saga of a single fulltime RVer who travels the western US. This is part one of my journey, from April 2006, when the blog started, to May 2008, when the blog continues at

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I have been a full-time RVer for 20 years, primarily "boondocking," camping free without hookups, in the Western US. My batteries are charged solely by solar panels. I welcome your comments and emails. I also make trips to other countries, although not usually with the RV.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Moving On - I Have a New Blog!

A friend told me the other day that I REALLY needed to change my blog address. Unfortunately, the only way to do that is to start a new blog. So for my future adventures, click here.

Please save it to your favorites, and thanks for reading!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Exploring Buffalo National River

The WINs moved on to Buffalo Point Campground, 14 miles south of Yellville, Arkansas. The Buffalo River was named a national river in 1972 to preserve it as a free-flowing stream.

I guess it was a little too free-flowing recently, when floods destroyed this boat ramp. But there are many more entrances to the river, and the kayakers were anxious to get on the river.

Transporting the menagerie of kayaks and their paddlers usually involves some complicated shuttling, but local outfitter Wild Bill offered us some great deals on rides.

Much of the river is bordered by beautiful high river bluffs, consisting of sandstone, limestone, and dolomite.

The first night there we had a "burn your own," bringing our own meat and sharing side dishes.

One night we went to Yellville for "Music on the Square," but it was moved inside because rain was forecast. Then it was cancelled and we were directed to the basement of the courthouse because of a tornado watch. We drove home instead through some wicked rain.

Another night, Joanne provided the makings for s'mores. The WINs are always up for eating.

There was no phone signal in the campground, but if you went up the hill to the RV dump, you could get a signal. So the dump was a popular place. This deer obviously didn't see the sign that the water was not safe to drink.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Jiggin' and a Kayakin' We Will Go

The main activity at the WIN NARKSMO circuit is kayaking. This is the view from the campground down to Sylamore Creek, where it flooded in March and April. Look at that poor little tree!

On one kayaking trip, our group left from the campground and floated down the nearby White River.

We have a tradition that whoever gets dunked in the water has to wear the duck cap until someone else gets dunked. Bob was very happy to hand it off to Nancy.

We also did a lot of dancing in Mountain View. I thought the best place was Taylor's Sons of the Ozarks. Each night they urged us to return, saying "It won't be any better, but it'll be different."

If you look closely, you will see a barefoot jig and sister Barbara dancing.

More barefoot jiggin' and double harmonica playin'. The two harmonicas are in different keys and were necessary because a harmonica doesn't have all notes on it.

On another day, Barbara, Phil and I went to Mountain Home, 50 miles away from Mountain View, so I could buy the kind of bread I like. In order to try to justify the trip, I found a group of historic buildings called the Rapps Barren Settlement in Mountain Home. This is a log cabin from the 1860s.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Ozark Folk Center

While in Mountain View, we went to visit the Ozark Folk Center. Really a fascinating place, dedicated to preserving traditional Ozark Mountain crafts and music from the period 1820-1920.

They make a lot of their own instruments, including some out of unusual materials.

The blacksmith demonstrated how to tie a knot in a nail.

The cooper had the best selection of tools, and did a lot more than just make barrels.

Twenty-one different crafts were demonstrated.

This woman was spinning angora from a goat in the pen next to her.

She looked more realistic than some of the other demonstrators.

They didn't include making moonshine in the craft area, but I think they should have.

We were entertained with traditional music from dulcimers and other instruments I didn't recognize. (Click on the arrow to view the video.)

Friday, May 09, 2008

Life in Tornado Alley

Driving to Mountain View, AR, the next stop on the WIN circuit, I started noticing a lot of houses with blue roofs. I finally realized that this was Tornado Alley. It turns out that a tornado went up the road I was on in early February. Unusual for that time of year, it was on the ground for 123 miles.

There were lots and lots of huge trees just torn out of the ground. Sorry these pictures are so bad, but this was "drive by shooting." (I just love my new little camera!)

Up in Mountain View, it hit on the east side of town. I hope the insurance office had good insurance! This was across from the hospital, which was also hit. Fortunately, all the patients got out.

The first two days in Mountain View were stormy and rainy.

But then the sun came out. In addition to tornados, these people have to put up with floods. They had a big one in March and again in April.

This shows the same bridge and tree during the March flood. The top of the bridge is barely above water.

The campground we stayed in was totally under water during both floods, even though it is way uphill from the creek.

The WINs decided to pitch in and help in the cleanup. Here, Max and Phil work on new insulation for the bath house that was underwater in the last picture.

More WINs cleaning up down by the creek.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Hot Springs

Hot Springs, Arkansas was the first stop on the WINs NARKSMO tour. Forty-seven natural hot springs, flowing at 143 degrees provide the town's main attraction.

This picture shows the town in 1875. The first bathhouses built in the 1800s were crude wooden structures.

In the early 1900s, elaborate buildings replaced the primitive structures. These are the buildings that make up Bathhouse Row today.

The Buckstaff Bathhouse, one of the original bathhouses, is the only one still operational today. A whirlpool mineral bath, loofa mitt, and 20-minute Swedish massage goes for $50.

Bathhouse Row is part of Hot Springs National Park. This restored bathouse is the Visitors Center for the park.

Tours of the three floors are offered by guides in period dress, or you can wander around on your own.

The men's bath hall, where the central fountain depicts Hernando de Soto, legendary visitor to the springs in 1541, being offered hot water by a Caddo Indian maiden.

The hydrotherapy room, which looked like a torture chamber to me. Current was added to the water of the tub in the foreground to make an "electric bath." Amazingly, they never killed anyone!

The ceiling displays a stained glass scene entitled Neptune's Daughter. Guys might want to click on the picture to get a larger view of some of the details.

Free water all over town! A little hot, but possibly the purest mineral water in the world today. The water rising in the spring today fell over 3,500 years ago, thereby missing manmade pollutants.

Water from 44 of the hot springs is piped into the 300,000 gallon reservoir beneath the National Park Headquarters. It is then disbursed throughout town.

We also visited the Garvan Woodland Gardens, on the shore of Lake Hamilton. Beautiful flowers, waterfalls, and trails. But I thought the neatest thing was the Anthony Chapel, made of southern yellow pine and glass. The 60-foot high ceiling seems to float among the trees.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Waco, TX

After the Dance Rally, I headed for the WIN series of gatherings in Northern Arkansas and Southern Missouri. (NARKSMO) On the way, several of us spent a few days in Waco at Speegleville Park, a beautiful Corps of Engineers campground right on Waco Lake.

One day we visited the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum.

There were lots of guns and other stuff to see, but I was looking for Walker, Texas Ranger.

Ha! Found him!

Waco has a beautiful suspension bridge over the Brazos River. Built in 1870, it was then the longest single-span suspension bridge west of the Mississippi.

They catch some really big catfish around here!

We also went to the zoo. It was better than most I've been to because you could really see the animals.

The lions were out sunbathing.

And the meerkats were smiling for the camera!