Travels With Dick and Judy

Follow us in our trials, triumphs and tribulations, while on the road in our motor home "The Liberty Belle". We chose to forsake the conventional lifestyle in our 3,000+ square-foot home to move into a 40-foot Winnebago Ultimate Freedom. Travel with us as we take you on the road with us in our new lifestyle.
I may grow older, but I'll never grow up!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

RV Vacation continued–Arkansas and Tennessee-July 18-28, 2014

On Friday, July 18th, with jacks up, we headed from Mountain Home, Arkansas to near Wynne, Arkansas – approximately 30 miles from West Memphis, Arkansas. It was an easy day of travel (154.5 miles), with a few stops along the way, and we pulled into Village Creek State Park (which is ironic, since we will be volunteer park hosts at Village Creek State Park in Lumberton, Texas from October through December) around 4:30 in the afternoon. Jacks down and set up!

The following morning, Dick/Grampa and Logan took pictures behind our campsite – where Dick thinks he got into some poison ivy, which is why you should never wear sandals when in the woods.

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We were then on the road for the afternoon to West Memphis, Arkansas and the Mississippi River. After not finding much of interest to us in West Memphis, Arkansas, we drove over to Memphis, Tennessee – across the Mississippi River (which we were used to crossing at Baton Rouge, Louisiana). At least I can now say that I have been to Beale Street in Memphis, which was interesting. We took in the sights; toured the Rock n Soul Museum (, which I loved and could have stayed longer, but it was just okay with Dick and Logan; and had barbeque at a place recommended to us, which was very pricey and not nearly up to par with what Dick can fix or that we had at Mikey’s near Mountain View, Arkansas. Even though I had not planned to tour Elvis Presley’s home, I am sorry that I did not think to at least drive by it – again, to say that I had seen it. Oh, well!



Our plan was to leave Village Creek State Park on Sunday, July 20th. However, when we went to raise the jacks that morning, they barely moved and stopped. We would never have lowered them, except that the RV tech had assured us that it would be okay. Naturally, this was Sunday, but we called Good Sam (“GS”) Roadside Assistance once , and told them exactly what we needed, and that we were not interested in a repair, but just to get the jacks up.

First, they sent a person with a wrecker company, who had Dick checking the HWH (who manufactures our hydraulic system) manual and making phone calls to see what he should do. After 40 minutes (at $85 per hour), I called GS Roadside Assistance and told them we would NOT pay this man, who knew nothing about RVs. Needless to say, no one could be found to come to our location on Sunday, so we had to extend our stay for another night.

On Monday morning, we received a call from GS Roadside Assistance giving us the information on another tech who would be sent. Long story short, after talking to him, he did not know what to do and told us to call another company. The rep with GS Roadside Assistance told us that, if they sent someone we requested and the job could not be done, they would send no one else – even though they could not find someone capable of doing the job. 

Totally frustrated, Dick called the RV tech from Leach in Mountain Home, who told him to drain the hydraulic fluid to manually raise the jacks. Bingo, it worked, and we prepared to hit the road – and deal with these repairs when we return to Texas! I tell this story to, hopefully, save another RVer from the headaches we have had. 

By the way, Dick found that, when our hydraulic fluid was topped off in Jasper, Texas, the wrong fluid was used, causing the pump motors to work too hard. Unfortunately, we cannot prove this! Fortunately, however, we do have a GS Extended Warranty policy so, when we settle in one place long enough to arrange for the repair, it should only cost us our deductible. That story really was meant to be shorter! Sorry!

From Village Creek State Park near Wynne, Arkansas, we traveled only 136 miles to the Walmart parking lot in Jackson, Tennessee to stock up on supplies and stay overnight. It was nice catching up on movies that we had not seen with Logan (since we had no TV set up on this trip)  – especially when we were so close to Redbox locations – and cheap entertainment, too. For those who are wondering, we always call ahead to be sure there is no problem parking on the outer edges of the Walmart parking lot, as some communities have ordinances that do not allow it. Also, since we run our generator to cook and for ACs, plus we usually buy supplies, it is not less expensive than most campgrounds for an overnight stay – but it is sometimes convenient.

On Tuesday, July 22nd, we hit the road once more to Cedar Creek COE Park near Mount Juliet, Tennessee (near Nashville). We only had 148 miles to travel and arrived at 1:30 p.m., but it was a very stressful drive through Nashville and to the park on roads barely wide enough in our lane for the motor home (“MH”). The good news was that we would be here for 6 nights – and another great campground. Check it out at: Cedar Creek COE Park - Mount Juliet, TN.

We spent Wednesday hanging out at the campground, and I was pleased to learn there was a washer and dryer on site and within walking distance of our campsite. So much better than having to go to a laundromat - even if it was still a chore - and I could dry on board (but not wash, since we had no sewer hookup). Logan had been wanting to roast marshmallows over a fire - like we did when tent camping - so Dick, with Logan’s assistance, lit a fire, we roasted hot dogs and, as soon as Logan started roasting marshmallows, it started to rain, so we had another movie night!

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On Thursday, July 24th, we headed a few miles up the road to The Hermitage, home of President Andrew Jackson. Logan has always enjoyed studying the life of Sam Houston, who was a friend of President Jackson, as part of Texas history, so he was looking forward to this tour and thoroughly enjoyed it, as did Dick and I. You can tour the home (but no pictures may be taken in the home) – and Logan and Dick are the third and fourth people sitting on the bench -  and explore the grounds with headphones to listen to stories at different locations. This was a great history lesson and well worth the trip!

Logan on path to Hermitage_resizeHermitage_resizeTomb_resize

Here are a few facts from the website at

“Since opening in 1889, President Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage has welcomed over 15 million guests. Located just minutes from downtown Nashville, this charming National Historic Site encourages visitors to step back in time and learn more about the rich life of the 7th President of the United States. Guests are welcome to explore the 1,120 acres of majestic property, complete with many educational activities that the entire family will enjoy. The highlights of a visit to The Hermitage include: President Jackson’s mansion, beautiful grounds, the original Hermitage home, spectacular Southern gardens, a museum filled with historical information and artifacts, enslaved memorials, and much, much more.”

To give us all some down time, we took excursions usually every 2 days, with the other day spent catching up and for Logan to swim, ride his bike, watch movies and just hang out.

On Saturday, July 26th, we drove into Nashville to tour the Parthenon, which is the world’s only full scaled replica of the ancient Parthenon in Athens, Greece. The following information is from their website:

“The Parthenon stands proudly as the centerpiece of Centennial Park, Nashville's premier urban park. The re-creation of the 42-foot statue Athena is the focus of the Parthenon just as it was in ancient Greece. The building and the Athena statue are both full-scale replicas of the Athenian originals.

“Originally built for Tennessee's 1897 Centennial Exposition, this replica of the original Parthenon in Athens serves as a monument to what is considered the pinnacle of classical architecture. The plaster replicas of the Parthenon Marbles found in the Naos are direct casts of the original sculptures which adorned the pediments of the Athenian Parthenon, dating back to 438 B.C. The originals of these powerful fragments are housed in the British Museum in London.”

Info re Parthenon_resizeThe Parhenon -_resize

The Bronze Doors_resizeBronze Doors_resize

For more information on the Parthenon, check out the following website: Parthenon - Nashville, TN.

For those 62 and older who have the Federal Senior Pass, which I have mentioned in earlier blogs, the card is good at the Parthenon for half-price entry, but each person must have their own card (which is not necessary for park reservations, but Dick and I each have a card, which saved us a few dollars).

Logan really wanted to visit the Parthenon, as he is an avid reader of the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan, and a portion of the movie, “The Lightning Thief”, was filmed at the Parthenon in Nashville, plus he enjoys studying Greek Mythology. It was interesting to me, too, as I remembered very little from this period of history – unlike Dick, who remembers history well.

Logan - Lightning Thief_resize

The statue of Athena was phenomenal!

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From the Parthenon, we drove to Broadway and Music Row, which I can also now say that I have been there, done that. I would probably have a lot of fun with our daughter Michelle and other girls and would love to attend shows – but this was not Dick and Logan’s thing. Thank you, guys, for humoring me!


After paying $15 to park for 2 hours and walking 2 blocks on a very hot day, past the Ryman Auditorium, which I would have loved to have toured, we located Jack’s Bar-B-Que, which had been highly recommended to us.


Jack's Barbeque 1_resizeJack's Barbeque_resize

Dick had this to say about Jack’s Bar-B-Que: “Their ribs are delicious, prices are very reasonable, but I don't know if it was worth a 2-block walk and back up and down a hill to pay downtown parking fees of $15 for two hours, then wait in a chow-line that wrapped around in front of a neighboring business (the Stand, the sign with the black oval, in the picture) in the heat for 15 minutes in about 95ยบ heat, only to go through their entrance and find there is another 50-foot line to get served cafeteria-style. The sides were less than mediocre – basically, my green beans were taken out of a can, washed with no seasoning added, then boiled until they were almost (not quite) mushy. At one point, Judy asked an employee about a to-go box for Logan, and was treated with total indifference and told to ‘go downstairs and ask for one' (we were two flights up from downstairs). After the meal, you are expected to clean your own table and dump your trays – ‘McDonald’s-style’... no wait, at fast food places, often you get someone asking if everything was acceptable! To sum it all up, I would prefer to go to a small Mom & Pop bar-b-que shack out in the boonies. The food was excellent, but I didn't care for the price we had to pay (especially in comfort) in addition to the food.” That about sums it up, plus Dick’s barbeque is much better!

After lunch, Dick went back to the car (he had seen all he wanted to see) to wait for Logan and I while we walked along Broadway and made a few stops, including the Visitor’s Center and Ernest Tubbs Record Shop.

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We then headed out of the city and back to the suburbs and the park!


The next day (Sunday, July 27th) was spent getting ready to travel again and begin heading south. Logan had another swim in Old Hickory Lake and, back at the park that evening, the Canada geese walking along the bank of the lake caught my attention.

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Thanks for stopping by and traveling with us and hope to see ya soon for the next phase of our RV vacation!


Sunday, August 17, 2014

RV Vacation continued-Mountain Home, Arkansas and more–July 11-18, 2014

I am shocked that I got another blog completed today, so come along and enjoy the ride!

We got a later start than planned on Friday, July 11th, and our destination was Dam – Quarry COE Park near Mountain Home, Arkansas – approximately a 277-mile drive. Again, way, way, way too long to drive in our motor home (“MH”) – partially because we had no clue that we would be going 40-45 miles per hour up and down hills most of the afternoon. Arriving in an unknown area after dark was not our plan! At least we were staying 7 nights, with day trips during the week! Other than our site having no trees and a bit of a drive to town, this was another great campground, so check it out when planning to be in the area - Dam - Quarry COE Park. I will say that Dick was not really thrilled to be camped below the dam.

Since the park had no sewer connections (as with most COE and State parks that we have found), we had to make a trip to town the following morning for one of my least favorite things to do – wash clothes (especially since we have a washer/dryer on board the MH). On a positive note, while I did the laundry, Dick made a Walmart run to buy a few items and get Logan a haircut.

Earlier that morning, we discovered our slide that was extended (from behind the driver’s seat to the hallway past the kitchen) would not retract. Naturally, we worried about this newest challenge; however, since this was a Friday, we decided to research RV repair shops in the area and continue with our plans for the week. More on this wrinkle later!

We spent the weekend settling into the area and recuperating from the long and stressful drive – plus checking out the lake for swimming and the creek for fishing, and giving Logan time to ride his bike and hang out.

Thanks to Facebook, we kept in touch with one of the rangers we worked with at Waco Lake Reynolds Creek COE Park over 2 years ago. Liz now works with the COE in and around Mountain Home, Arkansas, and she stopped by for a visit on Sunday morning. Liz, it was great catching up and hope to see ya down the road!

Ranger Liz Anderson_resize

Since we were in the park that day, Dick fixed his awesome spare ribs, which we served with candied yams, baked beans and garlic-buttered bread. Yummy - and one of Logan's favorite meals!

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After hearing that a short walk from our site to the Norfolk River behind the campground and below the dam was about 10 to 15 degrees cooler, we took an evening stroll with Logan, and here was our view from the boat ramp - and it was actually chilly. Amazing!

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Logan enjoyed his swims in Norfolk Lake, which was across from our campground at the end of a winding road around the dam.

On Monday, the cool front arrived – with temps in the low to mid-70s during the day and 50s at night with very little rain for the next few days. What a treat for us! We took a drive over to the White River State Park for a drive through and had lunch on the shores of Bull Shoals Lake - with the dam and visitor center in the background.  Unfortunately, we ran out of time to do more this trip!

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When we returned to the park, we went with Logan to the creek near our site, which is catch and release for under 16 years old, and Logan caught his first brown trout! While sitting on a rock watching him fish, this was my view. Can you say peaceful and beautiful?!

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Dick took this awesome shot of Logan fishing, and here is the way Dick described it: “Grandson Logan trying to apply the discipline of fishing and not getting too excited when watching those big Browns just a few feet away.” Dick actually considered trying to pass for under 16; however, he decided it would not work!


The following morning (Tuesday), we headed out for Blanchard Springs Caverns near Mountain View, Arkansas, and stopped for lunch at Mikey’s Smoked Meats & Deli – an excellent choice for our first meal out in a week – great food and service for a reasonable price.

Mikey's Smoked Meats & Deli_resize

After making a reservation for a 1 p.m. Dripstone Trail tour, Logan entertained himself and, then, we took the tour. Our guide was excellent and we thoroughly enjoyed touring the caverns; however, pictures can never do them justice! We returned to the visitor center by bus over a narrow, winding mountain road. There is a longer, more strenuous tour, as well, and I would encourage anyone who gets a chance to include one or more of the tours while in the area. For more information, check out

@ Blanchard Springs Caverns_resizeTour of Caverns_resizeMore tour_resize

Logan in Caverns
Phenomenal Ship
Following our tour, we walked the trail to Blanchard Springs, where Dick and I took some pictures and Logan had tons of fun climbing over the rocks and down to the springs. We learned on our tour that all the waters from the caverns flow into here. 

Logan also got to swim in the nearby creek and, then, we drove into Mountain View – hoping to tour some shops, but EVERYTHING closes at 5 p.m., so we did not have much time. We did have a frozen yogurt break and bought some homemade fudge before heading back to the park.

Mountain View, AR_resize

I love old courthouses (maybe because I worked in one for a number of years), so Dick took this picture of the Mountain View courthouse for me. My friend Janice visits and photographs state capitols. I would love to do the same for courthouses, but it would be a voluminous undertaking - so I (or Dick) photograph those that call to me!

When we had discussed returning to Branson, Missouri (where Logan, Michelle and I spent a day 3 summers ago), Logan did not want to attend any shows, but wanted to return to Dick’s 5 & 10 to browse and shop! Since our time was limited and this saved us tons of money, plus Dick had no interest in going to a show, that is what we did the following day (Wednesday). Branson was about a 2-hour drive from the park and we had a great afternoon.

Our first stop was a small shop called The Copper Coin. All items in the store are made from uncirculated pennies. The founder of the store has quite an interesting story and has written a book, all of which can be found on the website at

We spent 2 hours at Dick's 5 & 10, where Dick could have bought out the kitchen gadget area, but he controlled himself, and we only brought home a few items - but the prices were right.

We browsed a few more shops, bought stuff, went to a park for a picnic and drove back to Mountain Home.

I forgot to mention that, prior to leaving the park on Wednesday morning, Dick made arrangements with Good Sam (“GS”) Roadside Assistance to have Leach RV Sales and Service (“Leach”) come to the park on Thursday to at least bring our slide in, so we could travel the next day. For those RVers who might not know (like we did not), by calling GS Roadside Assistance, the travel to and from us was paid for, and that also covered the first hour for Leach.

On Thursday, while waiting for the RV tech to come later in the afternoon, Logan had a final swim in Norfolk Lake. I knew it was cold when Logan said he was ready to go back to the MH!

When the RV tech arrived, he released the pressure on the hydraulic line, and the slide retracted. He also checked the jacks and assured us that lowering and raising them would be fine – and more on that later. At this point, we made the decision to continue our trip and deal with repairs when back in Texas. Fortunately, with the slide in, we had (and have) 2 feet of walking area so, even though it was a bit more cramped, it was doable.

Now that we knew we could travel on Friday, July 18th, that night, we made reservations for the next week of our journey and got ready to roll the next morning.

Stay tuned and thanks for traveling with us!