STOP #256

I was updating our data tracking spreadsheet this morning, like I do every morning, with our daily temperatures from AccuWeather's website when I saw a story headline that read,

"45 years ago: The day it snowed in Miami".

I was working at Miramar Lanes at the time as a 21-year old mechanic and remember just staring out the front doors of the bowling alley early that morning, watching the snow land on my 1975 Pontiac Trans Am, wondering if it would hurt the "big bird decal" on the hood.

If the AccuWeather website story is truly accurate, like when has the weatherman ever got it wrong, January 19, 1977 was the first, and last time, it ever snowed that far south in Florida. Oh, how I remember the good old days!

Our original plans were to spend this weekend at a campsite in the Angelina National Forest, but none of their campsites have electrical hookups available. So "Plan B" went into effect and we booked a last minute reservation at an Army Corps of Engineers park in the same vicinity.

Why the change? Honestly we just chickened out! The overnight lows forecast for this weekend are 25°F, 21°F, 23°F & 36°F, with daytime highs only ranging between the low 40s°F up into mid 50s°F. That's just too damn cold for too damn long to be without electricity for heating THE POD's holding tanks and come to think of it, for us too!

Our lakefront Campsite #26 at Mill Creek Park, 10 miles outside of Jasper, TX.

We have a huge side yard outside our front door.

FRIDAY - With it being way to cold to enjoy anything outdoors today (mid-40s°F) we decided to spend our time (and money on gas) driving around checking out all the other Federal Campgrounds in this area.

There are three Angelina National Forest campgrounds that can accommodate THE POD. None of them have hookups for water or electric and none of them had anyone camping in them while we visited today.

There are five other Army Corps of Engineer campgrounds (not counting the one we are in now) on the Sam Rayburn Reservoir which is surrounded by the Angeline National Forest. We checked out four of them and are pleased that after seeing all of them, we would still pick the one we are in now.

As you can see in the photo below, we have the entire corner of this campground to ourselves.

SUNDAY - We found a hidden gem of a BBQ joint just outside of the campground entrance. It's called Texas Joe's Backporch BBQ and it's literally just that, a husband and wife team who 3 years ago opened a BBQ joint from the enclosed back porch of their modest home. They are only open Thursday through Sunday for lunch and dinner, so Steve still has time for his second love, fishing!

We didn't take any food pictures because well, the food ain't pretty, but it sure is mighty tasty. It's served in styrofoam containers and paper bowls. You'll be eating with plastic utensils and drinking from styrofoam cups. Guess it saves them from the need for a dishwasher!

There are only three four-seater booths inside of the enclosed back porch, but lots of seating outside in the yard under a huge shade tree for when the weather allows. We liked it so much we ate there twice in four days, something we hardly ever do!

Upon our arrival here on Thursday we drove right past it and agreed we would go have lunch there after we got setup on the campsite. The food was so good and inexpensive we promised to return for lunch on Sunday. We gladly kept our promise!

This is the view of their gravel parking lot from the road leading to the campground.

Their self made welcome sign pointing out the entrance to the back porch.

There's me, just chatting away while waiting for my meal to be prepared.

After waking up to 26°F temperatures this morning, the afternoon high was a comfortable 66°F, warm enough to enjoy our final sunset here at the Sam Rayburn Reservoir.

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STOP #255

We've got a long 250+ mile travel day ahead of us today! We are leaving Western Mississippi, crossing over the entire state of Louisiana and landing in Eastern Texas. So we need to get an early start because we are arriving at a small 20 site First Come First Serve campground in the Sabine National Forest. The fact that it's a Monday should guarantee there are a least a few vacancies for us to choose from when we arrive around noon.

We were on the road by 7:30AM and it wasn't long before we were crossing over the Mississippi River between the towns of Natchez, MS and Vidalia, LA.

The 4,205 foot Natchez-Vidalia Bridge is interesting because the current westbound bridge (the one we were on) was built it 1940 and was originally used for both east and west bound traffic. It's two lanes are only 8-foot wide (with no shoulders) and THE POD (and most other large trailers) are 8 1/2 foot wide. It makes for a somewhat tight fit when someone absolutely feels the need to pass you while still on the bridge.

Watch this short 8-second clip from a video Tricia just happened to be shooting while crossing the bridge. A white pickup truck passed us just as I was sliding over to the left edge of my lane to dodge a cardboard box coming up on the right hand curb.

The center span of the bridge is also where the state line is, notice the green Louisiana sign at the end of the video!

The newer eastbound bridge (built in 1988) has today's standard 11-foot wide lanes with both inside and outside shoulders.

Thankfully the rest of our trip was pretty uneventful after getting off to a little bit of a rocky start.

We arrived at Boles Field Campground around noontime, just as we had planned, and found only one other camper there in addition to the Camp Host. We had plenty of sites to choose from.

The campground occupies both sides of Forest Road 2694. The north side of the road is where the Camp Host, a pavilion and amphitheater, bathhouse with hot showers, and the Iron Ranger pay station are located. Along with the first half dozen campsites.

The south side of the road is where you'll find the balance of the campsites. They are all in one long row set not terribly far off the roadway. Each site has an electric and water hookup, picnic table and ground grill. There are also two centrally located trash pickup bins for us to use.

All of this for the Grand Total of just $3 a night, using our Lifetime Senior Pass, $6 a night for everyone else. I guess even "the bargins" are bigger here in Texas!

Campsite #11 at Boles Field Campground in the Sabine National Forest.

Those are our only neighbors way down there in the A-Liner style trailer.

TUESDAY - There is another attraction located here at Boles Field Campground that we haven't mentioned. It struck us as "just a little bit odd".

We weren't quite sure what to make of it when we first selected our campsite. After checking it out I told Tricia if she hears any hound dogs baying in the middle of the night I wasn't going to be the one to go outside to check it out!

It's located just on the other side of the driveway in front of our campsite and I'd be willing to bet none of you have any idea what it is! I sure didn't have a clue.

As you can see the signage reads,
National Hall of Fame Cemetery of Fox Hounds.

After checking out the cemetery we hopped into ROVER to go check out another Forest Service campground located nearby on the Toledo Bend Reservoir. The east side of the reservoir is in Louisiana and the west side is here in Texas. This campground does not have electrical hookups and with temperatures at, or below freezing, for the next few days we wouldn't even consider moving over here to save the $.50 a night. It's only $2.50 a night here and even I'm not that frugal (or foolish)! We love our little electric space heaters too much to give them up.

Campsite #24 at Ragtown Campground is high up on a bluff overlooking the reservoir.

It's quite the view from up here.

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STOP #254

After a typical travel day of 138 miles we arrived at the first of five National Forest visits we have planned for this month. First up on our route is Homochitto National Forest in Eastern Mississippi.

Clear Springs Recreation Area is the only campground in this forest that has water and electric hookups at each site. It's a first come, first serve site, which means there are no reservations accepted. You just have to show up and hope there is a site open for you to camp on.

We had our hopes that one of the two sites we selected from viewing an online campground map would be open when we arrived. Sites #18-19 have views of the spring from up above. We lucked out and only Site #19 was occupied by a couple of tent campers when we arrived, so we selected Site #18 for ourselves.

After getting all setup in the site we found out there was only a very weak cell signal available. Fortunately at the entrance to the campground there was a usable signal to download books and make phone calls.

Campsite #18 at Clear Spring Recreation Area in the Homochitto National Forest of Mississippi.

Our balcony view of Clear Spring down below.

Our first sunset viewed through the pine trees from the rear of our campsite.

FRIDAY - With afternoon temperatures right around 70°F we felt it was the perfect time to get outdoors and stretch our legs with a hike around the park.

With no cell signal and no internet it was our best choice for entertainment, besides reading our books. You can only do that for so long before cabin fever sets in when confined in a 200 square foot space.

At the edge of our campsite there are stairs that lead down to a bridge
that crosses over the other side of the spring pool.

This is the total volume of outflow from the springhead,
not very impressive when compared to others we've seen.

There was even a little wildlife to be spotted while out on our hike.

SUNDAY - What a difference forty-two hours can make!

Friday at noon we were out hiking in shorts and t-shirts with 70°F temperatures and this morning we woke up to 30°F temperatures and something we've only experienced four other times in the last forty-four months while on the road.

We're glad the snow came today, because at this time tomorrow,
we'll be heading some 300+ miles down the road to our next destination!

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STOP #253

The middle of this week will mark a total of 44 months since we started traveling fulltime in our Airstream. Astonishingly 9 of those months have been spent in Florida, more than triple what we have spent in our next most visited state of Massachusetts. The only reason we have so much time in Massachusetts is because we waited out 10 weeks of pandemic lockdowns in 2020 from Tricia's families backyards.

Every year that we have been on the road we have rung in the New Year from a Florida State Park. Well all that is about to change! If all goes according to plan, we won't be returning to Florida until New Years of 2025. It's time we travel west and explore all that it has to offer.

Campsite #51 at Paul B. Johnson State Park outside of Hattiesburg, MS.

The lake levels were extremely low while we were here.

Sunrise over Geiger Lake behind our campsite.

Look at that ceramic coating shine!

WEDNESDAY - After a longer than usual (258 miles) travel day on Monday we never even left the campsite on Tuesday. We are using these three days at Paul B. Johnson State Park in Mississippi to just chill out and recover from two weeks of pretty much non-stop social activities during the Canopener Rally.

But the chores and errands won't take care of themselves, so today we have to get out and get some things accomplished.

First up is to go grab some lunch! During our travels on Monday we passed a "new to us" burger chain, Ward's Restuarant. Ward's has 39 locations and they are all located in Central and Southern Mississippi. The parking lot was full (always a good sign) when we arrived and the drive thru was also busy.

Ward's is famous for three things, Chili Covered Hamburgers and Hot Dogs, plus their homemade Root Beer in a chilled mug.

We each ordered one of their Regular Burgers (no chili on top) and we both upgraded to their Sweet Potato Fries. Both of us sampled their Homemade Root Beer and I also added a Chili Dog to my order.

OUR REVIEW OF WARD'S: Maybe we should of ordered a "Big One Burger" because both of our Regular Burger's were cold to the touch like they had been cooked hours ago. The Sweet Potato Fries were good and hot, but not worth the $2.98 upgrade added to the Combo Meal price. The Chili Dog was OK, but not a top shelf hotdog, I would know. It was steamed and left the bun soggy when the Chili Sauce was added. The shining star of the whole meal was the Homemade Root Beer. It had a good, but not too sweet unique taste.

Will we revisit Ward's again when back in Mississippi? Not likely!

Next item on the list to do is to find some reasonably priced gasoline. I'm always looking to save a few cents when purchasing gas, it's our third highest monthly expense, behind camping fees and food.

I always use the Gas Buddy app on my phone when trying to find cheap fuel near us. Today we are in luck! There is a Marathon Station outside of Hattiesburg, MS with gas for just $2.77 when purchasing with a credit card. Most stations in this area are over $3.00, some as high as $3.15. It sure pays to compare!

As an added bonus I just joined the Marathon "Make It Count" Rewards program and as a Welcome Gift they have a $.10 per gallon discount your first 20 gallons of gas, that's $2 in my pocket. I was surprised when I pumped another 14 gallons and recieved the $.10 discount on that purchase too, that's another $1.40 in my pocket. The best thing is I get to charge all this gas on my FNBO Ducks Unlimited VISA card which rewards me with a 5% cash rebate on gasoline.

5% of the $90.79 worth of gas I purchased is $4.54, so I saved a total of $7.94 filling my tank today. It may not sound like much, but consider we fill up once and sometimes twice a week.

Last on the list is groceries. We are leaving this campground tomorrow to go spend 18 days in five different National Forests. Not expecting to be near any real towns or grocery stores we decided to "load up" and spent $232 at Walmart on just groceries. Not to worry, I used my Walmart Pay app, connected to my Walmart Capital One credit card and will receive a 5% cash rebate in the amount of $11.60 at the end of the month.

By the way we used a US BANK credit card that gives us 4% back on dining out to pay for our lunch today. Hey, every little bit helps and it all adds up at the end of the month.

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