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Spring in Kentucky [Apr. 10th, 2011|05:25 pm]
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We’re in Kentucky just in time for Spring! I really enjoy our days in Kentucky; we usually seem to come through here in spring or fall. We’re in a Corps of Engineers campground at the northern end of the Land Between the Lakes, and yesterday we drove the trace road the length of the national recreation area. It was a beautiful drive. The white dogwoods and the redbud trees are in full bloom, lacy white and pink all along the roadway. Up here in Grand Rivers the tulips and violets are blooming and the weather is almost summer-hot.

It was a bit overcast in the morning so the bison and elk were still out and about when we drove through the Elk & Bison Prairie preserve in the middle of the recreation area. We got great views of both herds, and watched an elk alert when he heard the diesel engine and follow us to make sure we weren’t a threat as the rest of the herd moved off. The preserve is in an area with a small original prairie at the center, which they are slowly extending to make more habitat for the herds. I was very interested to learn that the prairies that early settlers found here weren’t really natural to the land; the local Indians would keep the grasslands good grazing by burning off the land on a regular basis. Now the forest service is doing it; we could see the places where fresh grass was sprouting over burn scar.

Our campground isn’t in the Land Between the Lakes national recreation area proper, but just north of it. Canal campground sits just north of the waterway connecting Lake Barkley on the east and Kentucky Lake on the west. We’re in a sloped site with Lake Barkley just behind us; we had to squat the front of the trailer way down to get it level, and we’ve been careful to set the parking brake on the truck every time we pull in. That’s the only real downside of the campsite, and it’s only some of the sites here that are sloped like this. When we made our reservations this site was the longest of only a few open spots; next time I think I’ll try for a different loop, since there are more level places available. None of the sites we can fit into are bad, just some are better. The spaces are a good size; they have 50 amp service and water and the dump station looks easy to get into.

The campground was crowded over the weekend, but it’s Sunday and almost everyone else has headed home. We’ll be back on the road tomorrow, headed for Lexington for a week. After that it’s on to Virginia for a couple of weeks over Easter. This is a favorite time of year; since leaving Florida we’ve pretty much been chasing spring, moving north right along with the flowers and the warmer weather.

From Texas in mid-March we went to Hot Springs, AR, to find a house for rent for my MIL. We stayed at Cloud Nine RV Park, which is a small private park on a ridge about 10 miles more or less from Hot Springs proper. The campground sites (full hookups) are pretty tight but the vistas are great. The people are really friendly and obliging and they keep the place spotless. Thankfully the weather was really nice for the first week, because we spent most of our time running around Hot Springs Village and the neighboring areas. After a few false starts with realtors who didn’t actually have the listed properties on their websites for rent or wouldn’t consider pets at all, we found a realtor who would work with us and found a nice house pretty quickly. J’s sisters and their families came down to visit, so everyone got to see the new house that week. That was a good thing because the next week it rained just about every day. I was really glad the looking was done and we were down to taking care of the paperwork, and we didn’t have to walk around and tour places in the rain. While we were there, we checked out Gulpha Gulch, which is Hot Springs national park’s RV campground. It looks like a great place to stay to visit Hot Springs, but no reservations; you pay at an automated parking ticket machine in a small building near the front of the park.

We stopped at Blytheville on the way to Kentucky and stayed a few days. It’s a convenient spot to break the trip and see J’s sister. Our campground there was Grizzly’s RV Park, which had a great Passport America rate ($12.50) and very little else to recommend it. It was a single straight road off the main drag with sites on either side. Next time I want to check out the RV sites in Dell, which look very similar to Grizzly’s but are lot closer to J’s sister.

We had a great visit with them, went over to their house and had dinner the nights we were in Blytheville. She set us up with an appointment to consult with the welding teacher at her school, and we buttoned up the rig and drove in one morning. One of the outrigger supports on the left side of the trailer was bent out of position last fall when the tire blew out as we were on our way to Texas. We haven’t had the time or inclination to get it fixed; it needs to be bent back into place and re-welded. The teacher took one look and just blanched. Our concern had been the (plywood, flammable) floor which is just above the outrigger and supported by it; we were worried about the rig catching fire from the welding. Apparently we were right. It was well worth the time for the consult, even though he was upset he couldn’t do anything for us. We’ll arrange to go through Kansas at some point and have it looked at by the frame experts at Young’s Welding. They should be able to give us a repair that won’t risk our house!