2012 - 2017 Travel Map

Memorial Day Weekend at Sunny Haven in Granger IN.

May 23 – 27, 2014

Friday the 23rd we packed up and left the Elkhart RV Campground at 12 noon, check out time.  We were in no real hurry as our next stop was just 20 minutes away in Granger IN.  We planned to stay at the Sunny Haven Nudist RV Park for the entire holiday weekend.  

As we approached the campground we almost didn’t see the sign showing us the entrance to the park.  The sign is very small and the gravel entrance road is just as small.  The road is not made for 2 way RV traffic.  If another RV was leaving as we were coming in it could be very difficult for one or both of us to back up!  The campground as well as the entrance way is very secluded and surrounded by tall trees giving a nice overhead canopy feel.  

When the gate opens this is the sign that greats you.

Road leading to Sunny Haven Campground.

Gate to Sunny Haven at the end of the single lane road.

We were checked in by Vicky and Gary who are the camp managers.  They are very nice people who seem to bend over backwards to help everyone feel at home here.  They had a special rate for this weekend so the cost for the 4 nights was only $128.  This is very cheap for a nudist site and on a holiday weekend to boot.  Granted, our site is only 30 amp electric and water, no sewer.  The 30 amp electric would only be an issue if it was extremely hot with no shade. 

The weather was going to be great here with full sun and temps in the mid-70s to low 80s and 50s overnight, perfect. We are also in full shade so we may not even need AC at all. The lack of a sewer connection is fine with us too as we can go 2 weeks with just using our tanks and we are just here 4 days.  If we made extensive use of the bath houses we could do at least a month on our tanks.  We have never had to do this, but could if we wanted to sometime.

Our first night there the park had a free s’mores cookout at the community fire pit.  We attended and had a couple of roasted marshmallows and at least one full s’mores.  It was very nice evening at the fire pit!

On Saturday the 24th Patty put her shirts out for sale without even a sign and women have been gathering all weekend.  If the sales she made here are any sign as to what may happen at Sunny Rest next month, Patty will need to make many more shirts in the next few weeks!  She ended up having over $300 in shirt sales.

When not dealing with shirt sales we hung out at the heated pool.  Then at 4 pm the camp hosts Gary and Vicky hosted a BBQ for Gary and others birthdays. Then, later, at 8pm we had a dance at the pool with a DJ until midnight.  We stayed at the pool dance until a little after 10 pm as it was getting cold and we were ready for bed.

Sunday the 25th I hung out at the pool while Patty tried to feel better by sleeping.  She just wasn’t feeling very well when she got up and was soon back in bed for the remainder of the day, athough she had shirts that needed to be made to order. We are hoping that she will feel better by morning.

Memorial Day the 26th was another pool day for both of us as Patty was feeling like herself again!  This was to be our last day here but we were not having any luck getting a response from our usual campground in Crawfordsville.  We figured since it was a big holiday weekend, especially in the Crawfordsville area due their close proximity to the Indy 500 track, we would just stay another day in Elkhart and I would wash the RV and the truck.  We could also get the reservation squared away with the campground in Crawfordsville. 

We really like the Sunny Haven Park and the people here. We could come back here pretty easily if it were in our travel plans!

Leaving day at Sunny Haven.  We are parked under a lot of large oak trees that shed.  I cleaned off most of the oak litter from our awning before we rolled it up.

First black squirrels we have ever seen.  There were many here at Sunny Haven.

We had a reservation for next week the 5th of June until the 26th at the Sugar Creek Campground in Crawfordsville, but now we needed to change that.  We were done with the original RV warranty work a week early so we needed to know that the campsite in Crawfordsville had an open space for us.  Also, because we were probably going to bring the RV back up here to Elkhart for the frame repair on the 16th, we needed a new end date on the reservation. 

Sugar Creek Campground, located just at Crawfordsville’s west border, is very convenient for us while we stay here seeing my son Tony and his family. This would be our 3rd year staying at this campground.

I tried calling them from last Thursday and up to this Wednesday and would never get a person, just an answering machine.  I left several messages and did get called back a couple of times but I wasn’t available to take the calls.  I could just never get confirmation that they understood that I was trying to arrive this week.  So we contacted the only other campground in the area, the KOA, and made a reservation for a month starting on the Wednesday the 28th.  

In total, I left 3 messages in 2 days saying we were canceling our reservation.  The last straw was when the owner called me a day later after we were already in the KOA to ask when I was going to show up!  This time just to be sure, I sent the owner an E-Mail saying we were canceling and why.  She sent me back an E-Mail just a few minutes later saying that since we cannot communicate well,we should stay somewhere else!  WOW!  The really odd thing here is that Sugar Creek will not take reservations on-line, only by phone, but they never answer their phone.  They are trying to force a call where they initiate it and then settle the deal.  The problem I have had with them is that there is no written communication to go back on.  They are just way too sloppy with their reservations for me to go just on that. Anyway we are now at our first KOA since we started full time RVing. 

Our site at the KOA in Crawfordsville IN.

We have plans to visit grandkids and my stepfather Leon while here.  Hopefully we can get a canoe trip and tubing trip down Sugar Creek together with the grandkids and maybe a zip line trip too! We also have our 6 month Dr’s appointments here.

Stay Tuned!

Travel to Elkhart IN, RV Warranty Work, Evening with Relatives

May 20 - 22, 2014

Tuesday the 20th we packed up from Rantoul IL and were on the road by 10:30 am heading for Elkhart Indiana.  We were crossing over into the Eastern Time Zone at the Indiana border so the trip would effectively be 4.5 hours to Elkhart. 

Getting to Elkhart by 3:30 pm was fine with us.
We took the back roads into Indiana from Illinois.  We are trying to do this more often as there is so much more to see off of the Interstates.  Well, this time we went further off of the main roads than we had planned.  

We took IL 53 from I57 to the IN border at the Willow Slough State Game Preserve which is in Indiana across the border. Then we took 100N which became IN 14 that we took all of the way to IN 421 north to the Indiana tool road 80/90 for the last 20 miles to Elkhart.

The road, 100N in the game preserve was road not really big enough for 2 large vehicles passing each other.  100N did not have any shoulders and the edge of the road was very rough with broken pavement.  At one point a semi carrying grain stopped at a wide bridge to allow us to pass going the opposite way.  That was just a little too back road for us! However, the time flew by and we had a great adventure. We will do more of this but with a little more investigation about the road condition.

We arrived at the Elkhart RV Campground around 4 pm and picked a water and 30 amp electric only site as we were only going to be there one night.  We also got a site in the open so we could use our satellite TV.  This is a large campground with 350 sites.  It’s expensive for the area at $30 a night for water and 30 amp electric.  The park however does have a swimming pool, although it is closed until this weekend (Memorial Day).   A lot of people stay here that are having their rigs worked on at one of the many repair sites here in the area.




We had a chipmunk living on our site
I set up the grille and we had steaks for dinner.  We also managed to get in a 3 mile walk around the park for exercise.  Then it was early to bed as we needed to be at the repair place by 9 am which is 7 miles away.

Wednesday the 21st we were up at 6:30am, a half an hour earlier than usual, to get ready to take the rig to the repair place.  I did my resistance training exercises and a little internet and we both got a shower before we packed up. We really didn’t know how long the RV would be in the repair shop so we couldn’t make any commitments to camp anywhere until later in the day. 

We were on the road at 8:30 am to Recreational Vehicle Specialties to meet Ron at 9 am.  Good thing we left early because it took all of the 30 minutes we had to drive the 6 miles in city traffic.  Anyway, we arrived a couple of minutes early and Ron was ready for us.  I backed up to his shop and then we walked through the RV going over the issues with Ron and his 2 technicians.  Ron then told us he would be done around 2 pm this afternoon!  Wow!  This would be at least 2-3 days at a dealer and even longer to get the parts.

Patty and I went out for breakfast and then to the post office. We needed to mail out our vehicle registration money order to SD and send out the last blog post to our parents.  We also did a little unproductive shopping just to kill some time.


While we were waiting for the warranty work to be done we drove out to see where our Sanibel was built.
Plant 61 looks to be the place where it was built.  Our Sanibel's birthplace.



This is the Prime Time Site 61.  Not much to look at.  We would have taken a plant tour but they only have them on Mondays.

We got back to Recreational Vehicle Specialties at 2 pm and found the technician working under the bathroom floor.  Ron came out and said that they were all done with our list but noticed that the drain piping was not installed correctly under the shower and sink so they were going to cut it out and redo it correctly.  Another WOW from us!  They were going to do more work that we didn’t tell them to do!  The new time for completion was 4 pm.


Our Sanibel at Recreational Vehicle Specialties getting the work done.
We headed out to downtown Elkhart to the riverwalk to have a drink and relax a bit to kill time.  The riverwalk area is very nice and we would visit this again if in the area.  We didn’t get a chance to actually walk the length of the riverwalk but the part we could see looked real nice.

We got back to Recreational Vehicle Specialties at 3:30 pm and could see from the road that they were not done so we left them alone.  We headed back to the Elkhart RV Campground and made reservations for the next 2 nights and picked a site.  Come to find out later that we picked a not so good site as there was a tree in the way of the satellite dish so we couldn’t get satellite TV.  There are many “over the air” channels in the area so it's okay for us anyway.

Back at Recreational Vehicle Specialties by a little after 4 pm and the RV was all done.  We were surprised again by the extra work they did that would have never happened at a dealer.  Our fireplace thermostat was not working on automatic so we were getting this fixed.  It wasn’t a big issue for us as we only use the manual heat settings but we were coming in for warranty so why not have it fixed.  Well, they replaced the whole fireplace with a new remote control one! I’m not so sure we need another remote control for a 450 sq ft RV, but I’ll take a new fireplace!  Another small warranty repair was to have replaced a small aluminum pin that holds the rear of the toilet seat in place.  I had temporarily fixed it a few months ago with a piece of coat hanger.  Come to find out that Prime Time (manufacturer of our RV) did not have this part so they installed a brand new toilet!  

Recreational Vehicle Specialties also did a couple more items for us as part of their work.  As mentioned in our last post, we broke the hinges on the overhead pantry door with the slide out.  I asked Ron if he could get me some spare hinges so I could repair the door.  As were going over the list of repairs they made, I asked about the hinges.   The technician said it was all taken care of.  He found the door lying on the sofa and remounted the door with new hinges. WOW and WOW!  Also, Patty had asked if one of the bedroom closets was supposed to have a travel lock, ours didn’t on one door.  It seems that the latter Sanibel models have this lock.  You guessed it; the technician went ahead and added the lock.

After all of the WOWS came the not so good news.  The upper frame of the Sanibel is excessively flexing.  This flexing is causing the outer side walls on both side of the RV around the bedroom to separate from the frame.  The flexing is also causing the aluminum bedroom floor supports to crack/twist and separate from the wood floor.  Ron said that this is a problem with some of the Sanibels and that he has 2 inside his shop he is repairing now.  


This is the area of concern.  Note the space between the decal and the bottom of the molding.  This area closes up when the RV weight is put on to the truck.  This means that the side walls are not moving with the frame.  

Note the loose vertical molding piece.  It is being pressed up against the bedroom slide as the frame flexes.
The main part of the fix is to weld in a few gussets and to replace some of the aluminum frame tubes with thicker ones.  This job takes about 40 hours and we can’t stay in the unit while this work is being done.  They need to remove the bedroom slide, the bedroom dresser, and the entire front fiberglass cap from the RV.  Now there is a WOW! 

Ron said we could get back to him about fixing this and I said we don’t need to get back to him as I want to do this fix ASAP.  He is going to try to work us in around the week of the 16th of June.  Ideally for us next week would have been the best time to do this work.  We had blocked off 2 weeks to get warranty work done which included all of next week. 

This will mean we will go to Crawfordsville IN (Grandkids) next week a week early and then 2 weeks later pick up and bring the RV back here 3 hours away.  Then after the work, take the unit back to Crawfordsville for one more week.  We will do what we have to do I guess.

I did some research on the issue of the upper frame flexing. What I found was that this issues is not just related to Prime Time or just the Sanibel.  This issue is related to the frame manufacturer, Lippert and has been going on for several years on several other RVs.  Lippert makes most of the frames for the RV business and has for some time.  

It was unclear to me if this is a Lippert problem or the manufacturer of the RV.  I found that at least one of the manufacturers had extra supports added to the standard frame and were not experiencing this flex problem.  
However, Lippert has made thousands of frames and only a handful have had this flex problem.  Sounds like a control of quality issue and/or a weak frame design.  From what I was told and what I read, there is not a safety issue, at least at this stage.  I will leave this as I don’t have enough information to make a real good guess as to the cause for this issue.  We just want to get it fixed!

Thursday the 22nd we went to see my Uncle Larry and Aunt Marilynn near Middlebury IN about 20 miles to the east. They have a real nice place on 10 acres of woodlands.  We sat outside and chatted for a few hours and decided to go somewhere for dinner.  We ended up going a few miles into Michigan to an Applebee’s for dinner.  We had a great time with them.  They are very fun couple who we wish we could be around more often.
My Uncle Larry and Aunt Marilynn Hooley at dinner.
We got back from dinner about 8:30 pm and we said our good byes.  We hopped into the truck and found that the front tires had sunk into the soft sandy soil.  I was again stuck!  Larry got a shovel and a wheelbarrow and we went about making a harder road surface for the truck.  We dug a trench under each tire and then lined it with stone to make a sort of stone road.  After a few tries, we got the truck out a little after 9 pm. Whew!


Picture of me digging out the truck.  Aunt Marilynn is in the background.
Tomorrow we head a few miles to clothing optional RV resort called Sunny Haven in Granger IN.  We will be there over the Memorial Day weekend.  Hopefully we will know more about where we be going next week in the next few days.

Stay Tuned!

Rantoul Illinois and New Friends!

May 18 -19, 2014

Sunday, May 18th: As we thought, we needed to back out of the campsite at the Hilltop campground in Goreville IL.  It was no problem backing out and we were off going north on 57 toward Rantoul IL at around 11:30 am.  This was an easy pull with an easy on and off of I 57 north for both campgrounds. 

We made a stop about an hour away from Rantoul to put wine in the fridge to make sure it was cold when we arrived.  Also, while stopped we got some corn chips out of the pantry too snack on while traveling.  We would not have gotten the snack out if we had not been stopped anyway. 

Anyway, getting the chips out of the pantry in our unit required that we open a cabinet door behind the slide and then slide the chips through a 6 inch slot between the slide wall and the pantry.  We just made the chips sort of thin trying to not mash the chips and pulled them out.  Anything for a travel snack!

We arrived at the Prairie Pines campground in Rantoul at 3:30 pm and were set up by 4 pm.  Remember the snack we got out en route, well it became important to our arrival. Seems I didn’t close the pantry door after getting the snack out and it got caught in the slide as it slid out.  The hydraulic operated slide just broke the door hinges at their mounting screws with no problem at all.  The door was hanging on the pantry only by the stop chain.  Patty, like all of us do, got complacent and didn’t look to see if one of the cabinet doors was ajar while putting the slides out.  She is not complacent anymore!  She needed a couple of hugs after this.
  
There was no real damage except to the hinges.  It could have been much worse if it had damaged the cabinet itself.  I took off a bedroom cabinet door that is not visible from anywhere except from the bedroom and used the hinges to replace the pantry hinges.  It now looks like it never happened!  We have been so lucky with stuff like this!  We will get a couple of spare and replacement hinges when we go to the factory for warranty repairs later in the week.

After setting up we decided to have a couple of pork chops for dinner.  We started the convection oven at a low temp and took a long walk for some exercise.  We got back and put the chops on the grille with some BBQ sauce.   That was dinner.  A little TV and we were ready for bed.

Found this sign on the closed Air Force Base behind our campsite.  I used the old military housing area to do my walk/jogs.  


Our campsite in Rantoul IL.
This airplane was outside of the Air Force Museum behind our campsite.  We wish we had of gone in to the museum but we didn't have time.  Next time through we will.

Tuesday the 19th I started the day with some resistance training (stretch bands) and our usual internet surfing.  We had a lunch date with Curt and Glenda at 12:30 pm in Bloomington IL at a Thai restaurant.  As I have said in past posts Curt and I have been communicating for about 2 years on the internet but have never met.   Our common interests were full time RVing through the community at RV-Dreams.

The restaurant is about 50 miles west of our campsite so we left about 10:20 am to make sure we were there on time.  We arrived to find out that the restaurant was closed on Mondays.  Darn!  We were really looking forward to some Thai food.  

It turned out it really didn’t matter what we had to eat as our lunch turned into mostly conversation.  It is really amazing what happens when you have people together talking about the full time RV lifestyle.  I was finding it hard to eat with all of the talking we were doing.

Curt and Glenda are a very nice couple who we could have talked to for many more hours.  They just announced the good news that their house has a viable offer on it and they are looking to start out full time in September of this year. We remember when we got our house under contract so we really knew how good they felt.  We are so very happy for them.  They are going to have so much fun.  Also, Curt really has done his homework and is really set up very well for their start out.  Congratulations Curt and Glenda, we are very excited for you two!
Curt and Glenda after our long lunch.
After a couple of hour of “lunch” we said our goodbyes and promises of meeting up again, we went our separate ways. We went to a car wash and washed the truck and then to a Wal-Mart for some odds and ends.  

We also got a money order while at Wal-Mart for the South Dakota truck and RV registration.  We send that to our mail forwarding service who handles it with the DMV there and then sends us the renewed documents. Just want to say that the SD registration has almost doubled since last year.  We paid $162 last year and $319 this year! We are still benefiting from being in SD but this was a shocker!

Patty and I were still full from lunch so we decided to have a couple of scrambled eggs and bacon for dinner.  The eggs had scallions, mushrooms, and green peppers to fill them out and make a larger meal.  They turned out real good.

Tomorrow, we head out for Elkhart Indiana for our appointment for warranty work with our manufacturer, Prime Time on Wednesday. 

Stay Tuned!

Memphis TN: BBQ, Nightlife, and Heading to Illinois

May 13 - 17 

On Tuesday the 13th Patty found one of the best BBQ joints in Memphis at least that is what the reviews said.  The place is called Central BBQ and is located on Central Avenue in Memphis.  Jumping ahead a little, we have had BBQ ribs 3 times while in Memphis and these were absolutely the best. Also, it was very inexpensive at just $36 for the 2 of us including 2 IPA beers to wash it all down.  We would definitely return here in the future.


We ate outside under the canopy in the center of the picture.

Nice menu!

Stylistic pictures of Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, and Bob Dylan.
Wednesday the 14th it rained all day and never got above 60.  We slept in and never left the RV all day.  I wrote the last blog post and checked out RV parks for our future travels. Patty made 7 new cut shirts.  We also managed to watch some recorded TV from the DVR.  Our DVR is near full from staying in one place during the winter that we have enough stuff to watch for the entire year, we think.


This bright little blue bird hung around our RV all week.
This just has to be here in Memphis!
2 women were traveling in this!  Just enough room to lay down.

Thursday the 15th we went to Beale Street late for the after dark experience.  Surprisingly there were quite a few people there with it being a Thursday and off season.  It was also cool at just around 60 degrees.   We watched a couple of street performers and listened to several blues bands and had several beers/wine.  


Not sure I look good in hats but I liked this one.  I should have smiled though, I look like a gangster!

Patty enjoying a beer.  We don't usually drink beer (we drink wine mostly) so this is sort of unique for us.  But if having BBQ ribs and listening to the blues one needs to have beer.

These guys were great!  Wish I had purchased their CD.
At around 8 pm we had dinner at the Blues CafĂ©.  I had the catfish because I like it and since Patty doesn’t we don’t have it at home.  Patty had a sampler platter with pulled pork and ribs.  My cat fish was good.  Patty’s BBQ was not bad but just didn’t compare to what we had at the Central. All of it cost a lot more money too!  Our suggestion for folks coming here and want to eat Memphis BBQ is to not get it on Beale Street.  Beale Street is the tourist area and people come here for the activity and music.  There are many great places to get BBQ away from Beale Street.


I had the Big Ass Beer!

Interesting spices!

A lot of police here!  We counted about 30 officers within 3 blocks!

Cool signs!

Just a look at the night sites on Beale Street.

I just liked the statue. 

A larger woman singing the blues.

Patty on the left dancing in the street!
After dinner we walked the street a while longer and listened to a few more bands before calling it a night at about 10 pm. By that time it was feeling cold and Patty was dancing in the streets!  I had been the designated driver so hadn't had a beer now for a couple of hours so I was feeling the cold.

Friday the 16th was the second day of the International BBQ contest being held downtown on the banks of the Mississippi River.  It was a beautiful day with temps in the mid-60s and full sun.  Admission was free if you went in between 11 am and 1 pm.  

Interesting street name in Memphis, November 6th Street.  Saw this on our way to the BBQ contest.
I fooled around doing my exercise weights so we left about 11:45 am.  That would have been enough time but we needed to make a run to the post office to pick up mail from General Delivery.  When I use General Delivery I pick the post office from the USPS website that lists General Delivery as a service for that location.  When I asked for my General Delivery mail I was told that this location doesn’t offer that.  I have used General Delivery many times now and this is the second time I have had this happen where the website is wrong.  For the future I will call the location first before using it.  Like the last time this happened I was told to go to the main post office to get my mail.  It was now 1:30 pm by the time we got to this main post office to be told that the mail was not there either.  Not good!

I was only waiting on one piece of mail from my sister in Indiana.  She sent me the Hooley chain letters that go from family to family.  We worked it out that she gets the letters before me and then texts me for an address when they are ready to be sent to me.  The letters get around about 3 times a year.  

We are leaving tomorrow, Saturday for Illinois so we can’t sit here and wait for the letters any longer.  The letters had 9 days to get to Memphis from Indiana.  Our experience with mail is that it takes 2-4 days to arrive anywhere in the USA. Most usually it is 3 days to receive mail.  I feel real bad that because of me the letters are missing and probably won’t be found for at least 30 days.  The letter will be sent back to my sister after it has been at the post office for 30 days.  I am going to try to retrieve the letters by calling that post office for the next few days and see if it arrived.

After all of the post office drama we arrived at the BBQ contest about 2:30 pm and now need to pay to get in.  It cost $9 a piece to get in.  That didn’t seem too bad to us as we didn’t know what we going see in side except BBQ.  First of all the contest area is pretty big, much bigger than I would have thought.  The area closest to the river is where the contestants are set up in 3 rows for about ¾ of a mile long.  

We walked along the river watching people drink, play games, hit golf balls into the river, etc.  We found out that all of these places are just for contestants and their friends/family and such.  We needed to purchase food or drinks at the entrance from other vendors.  
Entrance to the BBQ contest.


One of the contestant sites at the BBQ contest.

Playing a large version of jenga. 

This was moving and should be easy to understand what is happening here.
Another BBQ contestant site.
  
Hitting golf balls into the Mississippi River.
We circled around and saw all of what can be seen from not going into any of the "contestants only" places and some were very elaborate.  We got back to the vendor area and got a full rack of ribs and a couple of beers.  The full rack cost $21 which was a few dollars higher than anywhere we had paid before.  

We were very disappointed with the ribs.  The meat was dry, like they had been frozen, and were tasteless.  We gave away several of the ribs to people who were considering purchasing them a the same place.  We definately slowed the sales for this place.  

Our take on BBQ contests now is to not go unless you are part of the contest.   We paid $18 dollars to watch other people have fun and for the opportunity to purchase food that was not in the contest and for obvious reasons not in the contest! 

Saturday the 17th we packed it in and headed out around 11:15 am.  We hit the dump station first which took about 25 minutes.  We were headed to a bump and run one night place in Goreville IL about 210 miles north east.  The route took us on I-55 back into Arkansas and then northeast into Missouri.  In Missouri we turned on to I-57 northeast back across the Mississippi into Illinois.  We arrived at our overnight site around 3:15 pm.  



Our site at the Hilltop Campground in Goreville IL.  Due to low tree limbs we had to back out of this site.


The campground is called the Hilltop and is right off of I-57. It’s really not a bad place for an overnight with full hook-ups at just $22.

We got set up and made our usual wine cocktails before dinner.  I set up the grille and we had 2 beef steaks for dinner.  For obvious reasons, we think we will lay off the pork for a few days.  After dinner we walked the park, watched some TV and called it a night around 10 pm.

Tomorrow we travel to Rantoul IL which is another 200 miles north.  We are staying there our usual minimum of 2 nights. 

On Monday we are meeting Curt and Glenda from Normal IL for lunch.  We have never met them but have corresponded for the past couple of years about full-time RVing.  At one time they were interested in our rig, the Sanibel, but have since gone with a Big Country I think.  Anyway they are planning to go full-time very soon so it will be nice to meet and hear their plans.

After Rantoul IL we are going to Wakarusa IN for RV warranty work next Wednesday.  We only have tentative plans for camping because we do not know how long the work will take.  Also, this is a holiday weekend and we do not have any reservations for a site.  The good thing is that we have family here and there are many places to camp, maybe not good ones but there are places.

Stay Tuned!

Memphis TN: Beale Street and Graceland

May 11- 12 

On Sunday the 11th we headed into Memphis to have breakfast and to check out Beale Street.  For whatever reason we picked Denny’s to have breakfast.  That was a mistake!  The food was good but could have eaten at one of the better restaurants in the downtown area.  We saw many people eating breakfast/brunch on sidewalk tables and enjoying a cocktail to boot.  Now we know better!

After the big breakfast we headed a couple of blocks south to the famous Beale Street.  This is Sunday (and Mothers Day) morning so there isn’t too much going on but you can tell this is a happening place as the sun goes down. Beale Street is not real long maybe 10 blocks or so.  It is very similar to New Orleans but much smaller and with lots of BBQ thrown in. Can’t wait to see this at night with all of the neon and also have some of the famous BBQ.  

From the North end of Beale Street looking South

Typical wall art on Beale Street.

A place to get a drink on the street.

Inside one of the many bars on Beale street.

Many artists are memorialized on the sidewalks.  This is a more famous one.


Street car in the downtown area.  Seems the cars are original, no big modernizations.
While we were downtown Memphis we found out that this week starting on Thursday is the World Championship BBQ Contest.  We are scheduled to leave here on Wednesday and head up to Nashville before the contest begins.  After some deliberations we decided to stay here until Saturday the 17th and attend the BBQ contest here in Memphis.  Nashville will still be there the next time we pass through but we may not be here for the BBQ contest next time.  That’s one of the nice things about this lifestyle; we can change our plans easily.  The key for us is to plan but have few absolute time specific commitments and, of course, that is easier said than done.

The weather and the big breakfast did us in after a couple hours exploring the Memphis downtown area. The temperature just reached 90 degrees with an 80% humidity and no breeze.  So we headed back to the RV for a nap in the AC.  

After the nap, I did a few chores around the RV. We haven’t used the bikes since we were in our winter spot in South Texas so I got the bikes out and tuned them up.   I also washed all of the windows on the outside including the big rear window.  The big rear window hasn’t been cleaned since sometime last year.  Since we were backed up against a fence during our winter stay, we never raised the blinds. So there was no reason to wash it then.

For dinner we decided to build a fire and cook a steak and watch TV news on our outside TV.  I gathered the leftover firewood from the other unoccupied sites which was easier than going into the woods.  It was nice outside as the sun went down so we sat outside and watched the local TV news and cooked. It was very nice end to the day!
Patty building the fire to cook our steak on.

Our site to watch the local news and 60 minutes while waiting on the steak to cook on the fire.

Monday the 12th we decided we would visit Graceland, the Elvis Presley mansion.  We didn’t plan it this way but the mansion is only 6 miles from where our site is.  Since this is a Monday, and not the “in season” time, there was no crowd at all.  The huge parking lot was about 25% full.  We could see whatever we wanted and stay as long we wanted to.  This is the reason we like to do our sightseeing in the Spring and Fall and during the week, much less crowded. 

Visiting Graceland is expensive!  First, it cost $10 to just park! The tour cost us $36 each bringing the total to $82 to visit a dead pop star's house.  Now I must say, after visiting this attraction, it was worth the money, and I am not exactly an Elvis fan.  Elvis was a big part of American life from the 50s and on up to his death in 1977 at the age of only 42. 

Front gate to Graceland.

Cardboard Elvis.  You can buy this here too!

Front of the mansion.  He paid a little over $100k for it in 1956.

Living room.

His parents bedroom.

Dining room.

Billiards room.

His office and where he did his first TV interview after returning from the service.

All of his gold records.

Elvis's racquetball and lounge area he had built behind the house.  He played the piano in this room and sang to some friends on his last day of life. 

A couple of the many costumes he wore performing.

Back of the mansion.

Pool with his and his parents graves in the background.

The Presley family grave site.  Elvis, his parents and his grandmother are buried here.

Elvis's grave
After the Graceland visit I have much more respect for the man than I did before the visit.  He had his parents and his grandmother living with him in the mansion.  He was also very generous with the people of the Memphis area. He was also an extraordinary performer with a great voice.  Yes, he had an addiction problem with prescription medications that eventually cost him his marriage and ultimately his life.  But overall he had a positive impact on the lives of many people.

We spent almost 4 hours there at the mansion complex. The attraction has many more things to see than just the mansion.  His 2 personal jets are there as are many of his automobiles and his extravagant toys.  There are all of his gold records and the costumes he wore while performing and from his movie career.  By the way, each place you go there is a shop with VERY expensive Elvis items for sale. One shop even had replicas of his costumes for sale starting at $1,800!  I did not purchase one of those!

One of the cars Elvis bought for his wife Priscilla.  After his death she returned it to the mansion for the museum.

Elvis has millions of dollars worth of cars.  I only have a few here.  This is a 1975 Ferrari.

Elvis bought this cadillac for his mother.

Elvis owned 2 personal jets.  This is the largest.

Dining table in the big jet.

Seating in the big jet.  The seat belt locks were gold plated.

Elvis's bed room on the big jet.

Elvis's smaller jet.  He had his dog with a bodyguard flown to Boston for emergency surgery on this jet. Unfortunately, the dog died days after surgery.

It looks like it is going to rain on and off for the next couple of days. Our plan is to eat at one of the best BBQ restaurants in Memphis on either Tuesday or Wednesday and then visit Beale Street all in the same evening.  That will leave us with Thursday and Friday visiting the BBQ contest.  We are just going to play it by ear and see what happens with the weather. 

We will leave here on Saturday the 17th and head northeast through Illinois toward Wakarusa IN.  It’s about 650 miles to the Prime Time factory in Wakarusa where our rig was built. Our plan to be there by the 20th next week so we can make the appointment we have at 9:30 am on the 21st to have Warranty items fixed.  

One of our stops along the way will be in Rantoul IL which is near the home of a couple who we have corresponded with over the past 1.5 years about full time RVing.  They are planning to start out sometime this year.  We are now planning to have lunch with them next Monday.  We are looking forward to that!

The next post will be after we are full of BBQ!

On our way back to our campsite I took this picture of the entrance.

Stay Tuned!