Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Campground Review - Nashville Country RV Park

Just passing through Nashville we stopped over at the Nashville Country RV Park just north of Nashville.

Staff - 7 - The woman who took our reservations was the same who checked us in and was courteous and thorough.

Nearby attractions - 9 - Within 30 minutes of all he Nashville attractions.

Natural surroundings - 8 - Little river runs close by and mature trees on lot. Close to state highway. 

Value - 7 - We paid $37 a night for a pull-through grass and gravel site with full-hook ups with a discount from Passport America. We paid extra for our kids. Site included cable. Still about as cheap as you can find anywhere near Nashville.

Bathrooms - 7 - Several big and shower stalls. Water was warm if room was a bit cold.

Roominess - 8 - Pretty big lots

Facility fun - 8 - Playground, outdoor pool, hot tub, exercise room, other activities.

Cleanliness - 8 - Park was well taken care of.

Facility usefulness - 9 -  Laundry, propane, picnic tables and fire rings at each site, free wifi, exchange library and camp store.

Overall - 8 - Cheapest place in Nashville is pretty decent place to stay.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Santa Claus, Indiana

What would be the perfect time to visit Santa Claus, Indiana? One would think around Christmas time, but one might be wrong in that assumption. A couple of days after Thanksgiving we stopped in the little tiny town of Santa Claus and found the town pretty quiet on a Saturday afternoon!

The campground in town was closed for the season, so we could not stay there, which meant we could not stay to see the light show at night. The theme park Holiday World was closed for the winter and so was a local eatery called Frostys. Hmmm, maybe this town should have had a Labor Day theme!

We did stop by Santa's Candy Castle, which was open for business and our main reason for swinging by this oddly named burg. Even here we were a bit disappointed by what was mostly a store with five dollar hot chocolates and a chance to write Santa at seven dollars a pop! I guess Charlie Brown was right when he said Christmas was becoming too commercialized!

They do have some fun bubble gum machines inside where for a quarter you can watch your bubble gum do all sorts of fun twists and turns and bounces and lifts before you eventually get it for some chewing delight. This was fun, but our favorite thing in Santa Claus was the chainsaw artist who was carving a St. Nick out of a hunk of wood in the parking lot of the Candy Castle! We enjoyed watching him in his element and perusing his completed works. Almost wanted to buy one, but then where would we put it in Howard!

So from our perspective, Santa Claus, Indiana may be a better place to visit in the summer! At least we did not drive very far out of our way and we had a little fun stopping in this town.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Campground Review - New Vision RV Park

In our quest to move south we stopped at a little place called New Vision RV Park in between Terre Haute and Vincennes, Indiana.

Staff - 9 - Owner who checked us in was quite helpful and friendly.

Nearby attractions - 8 - Very close to Vincennes which has some history and other fun stuff to do.

Natural surroundings - 7 - Close to state highway and train track was pretty close. Park is on a lake with some trees.

Value - 9 - We paid $11.50 a night for a back-in gravel site with full-hook ups with a discount from Passport America.

Bathrooms - 7 - In basement next to laundry, there is only one, but shower is big and warm.

Roominess - 7 -  Average-sized sites.

Facility fun - 7 - Small playground, fishing on lake, no license needed.

Cleanliness - 8 - Park was well taken care of.

Facility usefulness - 9 -  Laundry, propane, picnic tables and fire rings at each site, free wifi, exchange library and small store.

Overall - 7 - The train was the biggest drawback, but very clean and convenient park.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Flying High in the Sky

This post can now be found as part of our new book Napkin Dreams, which can be purchased on

Friday, November 25, 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Land of the Hawks

While making a rather long drive from Memphis, Tennessee to Rockford, Illinois, we attempted to count motorhomes, an old game of ours to help pass the time. We were not finding too many this time of the year or on the roads were driving. We have counted other interesting things before like pronghorns in Wyoming and pick-up trucks in central Illinois.

This time however we soon began to notice all the hawks that were everywhere along the side of the road. They were perched on barren trees, fence posts, telephone wires and even on the ground. We saw them flying several times and we spotted them on lonely two-lane county roads and big, busy Interstate 55.

We spied the hawks in Arkansas, Missouri and Illinois. Most of them were red-tailed hawks, but we know we saw some sparrow hawks as well as Cooper hawks, red-shouldered hawks and Swainsons hawks. Patsy tried to catch a few with the camera, but this is not an easy feet while driving down the road! Overall we saw well over a 100 hawks on our northward trek. Fall is a great time to spot them, as they are searching the plowed under fields for mice and moles and the leafless trees do not hide their presence as well.

Campground Review - Tom Sawyer's Mississippi River RV Park

We found a unique little RV Park in West Memphis, Arkansas called Tom Sawyer's Mississippi River RV Park. Just getting to watch the barges float down the Mighty Mississippi makes this park a special place!

Staff - 9 - Three different staff members assisted us in getting checked in and settled in our spot. the guy who drove us to our site even shone his lights for us while we hooked up.

Nearby attractions - 8 - Very close to Memphis, Tennessee. You can see the city's lights across the river and down aways.
Natural surroundings - 9 - Right on the river with some great views. Trees are scattered around the park and surround the park.

Value - 7 - We paid $32 a night for a pull-in gravel site with full-hook ups with a discount from Escapees.

Bathrooms - 6 - They were smaller and cold this time of the year, but clean.

Roominess - 8 - Bigger than average-sized sites.

Facility fun - 6 - On river, fishing and boating are options.

Cleanliness - 9 - Clean park despite recently being flooded out.

Facility usefulness - 9 -  FREE Laundry, free wifi, small exchange library.

Overall - 9 - The river and free laundry made this a very pleasant stay for us!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Bibles and BBQ

Pulled Pork Sandwich from Interstate BBQ!

Sorry, but this post has been deleted because it is a part of our new book called Napkin Dreams!

Our great guide!

In addition to the exhibit of artifacts and replicas, the museum also had a fun temporary exhibit of nativity scenes from around the world that was on loan to the museum. Once again our guide made it a fun experience for our kids by having them look for unique objects in the scenes and paintings. At the end she even gave each of our sons a cool pencil with Egyptian writing on it! We really enjoyed our brief time here.

Oh the Things You will See

By Patsy

Settling into our campground here in Arkansas, I am watching a tug boat push a barge down the Mississippi River out our front window. The campground is named after Tom Sawyer and the setting here really does bring to mind the wonderful stories of Mark Twain. The vine covered trees growing along the banks of the river as it winds its way slowly down stream. It makes me want to whitewash a fence somewhere. But as I look out at the unusual view, I am struck by how many things I have seen in the state of Arkansas that make me step back and say, “Well, you don’t see that every day.”
I have seen the famous bathhouses lined up along the main streets in Hot Springs, Arkansas where the wealthy would come for natural hot springs baths and massages by the hundreds. These patrons would sit in groups with towels wrapped around them basking in the knowledge that soon a perfect stranger would be washing them down with loofa sponges. You just don’t see people waiting in line to take baths with total strangers every day, but I guess you used to be able to see it quite regularly.
We have seen a woman lying on the ground under a tree in the middle of Hot Springs National Park at 10:00 a.m. Needless to say a woman lying in a fetal position in the middle of a wooded area in a National Park is cause to stop and ponder. After we made sure she was just asleep and not a victim of a crime or someone in need of a better place to sleep, we traveled on our way and shook our heads stating, “Well, you don’t see that every day.”
I have seen bill boards posted along the highway praising the coach of the Razorbacks and letting the world know that this is one rather appreciated man. I’m guessing that the Razorbacks are either doing very well right now, or this place really loves their team. Either way, this type of coach appreciation is not really something you see every day.
I have seen a small farmhouse with an industrial sized, public playground complete with climbing tubes, slides of different sizes and swaying bridges sitting in the farm’s front yard. This in itself would be worthy of notice, but I found it even more interesting to note that right next to this mammoth play structure were several very sharp, very dangerous pieces of farm equipment, including sharp plowing discs and rusted metal. Not a combination you happen to see every day on a child’s playground.
We have passed the car dealership of Josh Duggar, of 19 Kids and Counting fame. Not wanting to be prosecuted for stalking, we decided not to stop and demand autographs, but we did take a picture as we motored past. Again, a semi-celebrity selling used cars is not something you see every day, but there is a pretty good possibility that we will be making a return trip for a newer vehicle once we are done with our travels.
I saw a nice little house with a running refrigerator sitting on the front porch next to the front door. Certainly this would be a handy place to get nice cool refreshment when you are out doing the weekend yard work, but not really something you see every day.
We visited the Old Mill that is featured at the beginning of the movie Gone With the Wind, and were struck by the beauty of the building and its quiet streams and ponds. The mill and the area surrounding it were absolutely breathtaking. It was a photographer’s haven and I kept my camera busy the entire time we were there. It was truly a beautiful setting that you aren’t lucky enough to see every day.
We stopped at the site of the very first Sam Walton Wal-Mart store. Inside we were greeted with some of my favorite candies and toys from my youth. As we walked around and giggled at the sets of wind up chattering teeth and little red radio flyer wagons, I felt that I was transported back into my early childhood. It’s funny, but you just don’t get to see too many stores that still sell candy Wax Lips, Good and Plentys and Slow Pokes anymore.

Oh sure, there are many things in Arkansas that look much like every other state in our great country, but it’s those special little unusual surprises that I really love. It’s the things that you just don’t see every day that makes memories and Arkansas has given me some great ones.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

First Walmart and Sam Walton

Sorry, but this post has been deleted because it is a part of our new book called Napkin Dreams!
Sam Walton's 1977 pickup

Sam Walton's office

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Campground Review - Downtown Riverside RV Park

We stayed in an "urban RV Park" when we stayed at the Downtown Riverside RV Park in North Little Rock, Arkansas. It is right across the river from downtown Little Rock.

Staff - 7 - We met two different staff members who were both helpful and nice. They did make sure to give us "special instructions" for our kids. I guess it is sort of like the talk you get about keeping cleaned up after your dog.

Nearby attractions - 8 - Right in the middle of Little Rock area.

Natural surroundings - 3 - Not what this is really about, but the park is right on the Arkansas River and the skyline is very pretty at night. Not too loud either, we slept fine.

Value - 10 - We paid $9.90 a night for a pull-in gravel site with water and electric using our Passport America card.

Bathrooms - 6 - Converted trailer and shed, they were cold, but the water was hot and the bathroom was clean.

Roominess - 7 - Our site was set far apart from the others, but the others look normal sized.

Facility fun - 4 - Close to urban walking path.

Cleanliness - 9 - Nicely kept up.

Facility usefulness - 6 -  Laundry, free wifi, small exchange library.

Overall - 7 - Fun to stay for an overnight!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Old Mill of Little Rock

There is a beautiful park in North Little Rock, Arkansas where a very old mill is located in a picturesque setting called, oddly enough, the Old Mill Park. This mill has been around for many, many years and was a setting for a few scenes in the movie Gone With The Wind.

There are several strange bridges and rocks to climb on, so we had some fun exploring the place, teaching the boys more about the use of mills in history, and taking some fun fall shots!
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