Update: It has been a week since I wrote the section following. I am in a library in Millington, Tennessee just above Memphis. I did not have good enough Internet service in Petit Jean State Park to download my pictures. Now we are in a State Park in Tennessee with zero cellular service, thus we came into town to use the library.
Yesterday we had a nice visit with my cousin James Rone and his wife Theta. Tomorrow we plan to attend church with our friends Phil and Sharon Bollinger. Phil was one of my roommates for three years in college.
We have endured several storms in our recent travels. We were really blessed here in Tennessee when a very severe series of storms with winds up to 50 mph passed around us. We are in a campground that sits in the middle of a forest with just enough trees removed for the road and campsites. There was potential for a lot of damage from falling limbs or trees had the storm passed through our area. We are thankful for God's protection. All this rain continues to add to the flooding in the Mississippi River valley. We have never seen so much high water in our travels. We have been in contact with the folks back at Vidalia and remain worried that the campground there may be flooded in part or in whole. In fact the primitive camping area very near where we camped was already flooded when we last talked several days ago.
Original text: I am writing today, Sunday afternoon April 6th , 2008, as I sit outside in our screen tent. It is a beautiful spring day in Arkansas, temperature about 70 with bright sunshine. We are in Petit Jean State Park, the first state park established in Arkansas. It was built by the CCC from 1932 to 1941 and is perhaps the nicest state park I have ever visited. We have a huge campsite with full hook ups which is a bit unusual for a state park. Most do not have sewer hook-ups.
We arrived hear yesterday after a long trip to our new home state of South Dakota. We left Vidalia. Louisiana on March 30th. We spent two nights on the road at a very nice Corps of Engineer (COE) Park called “Tar Camp” on the Arkansas River. (Some folks recommended we stay at another COE campground called “Toad Suck”, but it was too far away. I love some of these names for the COE parks. All are taken from some local point of interest.)
We arrived in Russellville, Arkansas on April 1st and stayed one night at the Outdoor Living Center RV Park. We were not impressed with this campground and will not stay there again. We put Clay in a kennel and the next day left the RV at the Outdoor Living Center RV dealership. (While we did not like their campground, we were very pleased with the dealership and would recommend it to others who need service, especially on a Newmar.) We left the RV to have various repairs and routine maintenance performed.
After leaving the RV, we headed to Sioux Falls in the car. We made it to St Joseph, Missouri above Kansas City the first night. The next day we got to Sioux Falls just before 3pm. By 5pm we had gotten our drivers licenses, registered to vote, opened a local checking account and checked in at the motel. Other than the long drive, it did not take long to finish establishing our residency in South Dakota. We are using a company, Alternative Resources, to receive and forward our mail. They had already handled the registration of our vehicles so we needed to do the other things to finish establishing ourselves as South Dakotans. We are already having some funny reactions from people who see our tags and then hear me talk with my Mississippi/Georgia/South Carolina accent. I just tell them this a typical accent from somebody from “South” Dakota rather than “North” Dakota.
After we checked in at the hotel and rested a bit, we went out and found the falls from which Sioux Falls derives its name. They are in a very pretty city park. A few pictures are included with this update. We were happy to only see a small amount of snow on the ground. It was pretty cool while we were there but thankfully no snow or other bad weather. We had to take one picture of Monique beside a huge pile of snow at the Barnes and Noble parking lot. Every time it snows they push the snow into a big pile and it continues to grow all winter. We saw one pile that looked about as large as a one story house. I think they will be standing by that pile in July when they want to cool off.
We left Sioux Falls the next day (Thursday) and drove 550 miles to Joplin, Missouri. Then Friday we made it back to Russellville and picked up Clay and the RV. Needless to say we were very tired after driving about 1500 miles in 4 days. We hope not to every do that again.
We plan to stay here at Petit Jean SP until Thursday when we head to Memphis to visit family and friends for a few days. I am always uncertain whether I will have internet service at my next stop, so I’m not sure when we will send our next update. Hope everyone is doing well.
James and Monique