Saturday, August 25, 2012

1,379 Miles in 5 Days

We’re parked at the Allegro Campground in Red Bay, AL, after leaving Hart Ranch in Rapid City, SD on Tuesday 8/21. Five days’ driving in a row isn’t how we like to travel, nor as many miles as we logged. But we wanted to get here before the new week begins to get into a full-hookup site. Typically, Tiffin motorhome owners leave the morning after their service, and many times they get done on Friday afternoon. So Saturday is the best day to arrive. We have lots of company, as we followed one coach in when we arrived around 1 pm, and 3 more came in behind us. A couple of hours later I walked to the office to turn in our paperwork and 3 more coaches were pulling in. I heard they predict the campground will be full by noon tomorrow, and anyone arriving after that will have to boondock.

Our target destination is Sedalia, MO for the Escapees annual rally “Escapade.” It begins on Sept. 16, but we need to arrive early so I can give driving lessons and help with Boot Camp. Plus, Don and I are serving on staff again at the Volunteer Bureau, so we need to be there early for that as well.

We decided to come to Red Bay first to try to get our service done in advance of the Escapade, even though it was out of our way to do so, and in spite of the fact that we have an appointment for Sept. 28. Arriving without an appointment, we are put on a waiting list and hope our work can get done within the next 2 weeks. Our plans after the rally are to attend a 1.5 day post-rally gathering for Volunteer Club Representatives (VCRs), then depart for Albuquerque, NM for the Balloon Fiesta, hopefully arriving by Oct. 3.

Our first stop was 222 miles from Hart Ranch in Valentine, NE. We connected with our friends Frank & Gloria King, who are also on their way to Escapade, but taking a different route to visit friends and family. It was great to manage to cross paths and spend some time together, although brief.

We shared happy hour outside with our two dogs named Shadow.




Then the four of us went to a local steakhouse for dinner.


Our next stop, 268 miles away, was the Blue Ox factory in Pender, NE. Our Blue Ox tow bar was damaged when a locking pin didn’t close properly and one leg of the tow bar came loose from the car on a narrow 2-lane road without shoulders in Wyoming. It still worked using another non-locking pin, but we wanted to get it repaired as the towing power may have been reduced by the damage.

Site #6 in the RV park near the building was reserved for us, and we arrived in plenty of time on Wednesday to get the tow bar into the shop that afternoon. Unfortunately, it couldn’t be repaired because that model was discontinued and the company no longer stocks parts for it. Our only choice was to buy a new tow bar, either from Blue Ox or a competitor. We decided to get a new one here, to minimize time and effort invested, and it helped that we got $150 discount for the trade-in. It was a fairly painless transaction, except the bank account suffered a bit. But the new tow bar is sturdier than the old one and we’ve noticed less side-to-side movement of the car while towing as we see it in our rear-view camera. Plus, the beautiful, spacious RV parking facilities that Blue Ox provides free for customers can’t be beat!


With that small piece of business taken care of, we left the next morning headed southeast. We weren’t quite sure how far we would get, but after 2 relatively short travel days and almost 900 miles to go, we wanted to get some more miles behind us. We kept revising our destination as we rolled along, and we ended up in a Passport America RV park on the southeast side of Springfield, MO 453 miles later. The park, a mobile home park with empty sites they rent to RVs, wasn’t anything to write home about, but we just wanted a safe place to rest and it provided that.

With renewed energy and the knowledge that the next 2 days would be easier with only 432 miles to go, we drove 273 miles on Thursday to W. Memphis, AR and stayed at Tom Sawyer’s Mississippi River RV Park, where Don stayed once several years ago while RVing solo. In fact, we actually drove a few miles further because we planned to stay at the Mississippi River RV Park in Memphis, TN. (You can see the similarity in names.)

Based on reviews on RV Park Reviews, it seemed like a good place for just one night. One review was particularly misleading; it said, “Many concrete pads right on the Mississippi River where you can watch the barges travel by.” Not true. The park is old and in poor repair, sites are short and small, on mostly broken concrete with no grass, surrounded by chain-link fence and an undesirable neighborhood, and no view of the river or anything else worth looking at! I wonder if that reviewer was confused because of the similar names of the two parks and really stayed at Tom Sawyer’s.

So we drove back across the river to W. Memphis and Tom Sawyer’s Mississippi River RV Park. We knew we had just missed friends Greg and Jan White, who had blogged about their stay at Tom Sawyer’s overnight the previous night. In fact, we were assigned the same site they had, with a beautiful view of the Mississippi River, and we enjoyed watching barges being pushed downriver by tug boats. And this park only cost $6 more than the dumpy one.



The boat in the picture above (and a close-up below) was bigger than many of the tugboats I’ve seen. And it looked newer and cleaner than most, too.


The final leg of our trip was mercifully short, only 160 miles. We’re checked in and parked in site #10 at the Allegro Campground aka “Camp Red Bay” at the Tiffin Service Center. As soon as we pulled up to our assigned site, our friends Tom and Pat Whittaker came out to greet us from 2 sites away – what a nice surprise! We had dinner with them and caught up from the last time we were together – I think it was in March at the Gypsy Journal Rally in Yuma. I didn’t get a picture of them, but I will in the next few days and will post again.

Our 5-day trek took us from SD through NE, IA, MO, AR, TN, and MS and finally into AL. Eight states, four of them today. Whew! I think I’ll sleep in tomorrow.


  1. Sharon, I enjoyed my stay at Tom Sawyer in 2010. I had to go back and re-read because I thought you were describing TS as broken concrete, chain link fences, etc. I was there just before the big floods hit. I had perfect weather and I, too, enjoyed sitting out reading and watching the barges go by.

    The only thing I didn't like was the surrounding neighborhoods, but I never felt unsafe in the park, and the employees were very nice and very friendly.

  2. Hope you get in for service quickly so you aren't rushed to get to your rally duties. That will also give you more time to get to ABQ where we will see you in early Oct. How is your Shadow doing?

  3. Hope you get in for service quickly so you aren't rushed to get to your rally duties. That will also give you more time to get to ABQ where we will see you in early Oct. How is your Shadow doing?

  4. You certainly have a very busy schedule, maybe a rest at Tiffin while you get some maintenance taken care of will be a good thing. I'd love to stay at that park while watching the boats go by on the Mississippi.

  5. Wow, you have driven a lot of miles in a short time. What is the price of diesel back there? We just paid $4.43 here in Salem, OR--up 44 cents in 16 days at the same station. Wow, that is going to hurt on the trip back to TX.
    Hope you are able to get your repairs done quickly and have time to relax on the way to Sedalia, MO. Thinking of you both.

  6. Thanks for taking us along on your trip. The CG Site at Tom Sawyer looked particularly nice. Hugs, C&J


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