Sunday, May 27, 2018

Thank You Veterans!

On Saturday, we strolled over the park's bridge to see a fun and lively Memorial Day Parade. We really appreciated the announcer taking the time to call out the names of all the town's veterans. We tend to forget just how much we owe to the men and women who served, and also to their families. We'll let the pictures speak for themselves - and yes, there was a snowman watching from an upstairs window!

Staying at Chautauqua Park

We stayed at Chautauqua Park for a week. The city of Beloit allows campers to stay for 10 days, and camping is free. Chautauqua Park sits on the Solomon River, and you can see the Beloit Falls from the pedestrian bridge that goes from the park to downtown Beloit. 

The park's name comes from Chautauqua assemblies, started at Chautauqua Lake in New York in the nineteenth century. While initially religious in nature, these assemblies encourage adults from different denominations to meet for several days and improve themselves, learning about a variety of things, from political to history. These assemblies were very popular in Kansas, and are credited with the continued importance in many Kansas towns of adult education, community spaces, and reading clubs. 

Address: Chautauqua Park Drive, Beloit KS

Dog Friendly: The park does not have any designated dog areas. Other campers did see snakes at this park, so you should use caution when walking your dog and we would suggest not allowing your dog in the water. There is also a disc golf course, which can make finding space to walk a dog a bit more interesting.
Motorcycle Friendly: This park's roads are all paved and well-maintained.

Cell Service/Wifi: Verizon was 3-4 bars.
 Amenities: The park has electric hookups. Water is also available, but you will need an extra long house. There are two campsites to each concrete pads, with a shared pavilion and picnic tables. There are bathrooms in the white maintenance shed, but no showers. There was a dump station in front of the shed, marked with a faded yellow square.  The dump is still there, but no longer has threads for connecting a hose, or available water. 
This is a very kid-friendly park. There is a small water park and a large playscape near the park's entrance. There are also pages from kid's books placed every 25 yards or so, to encourage parents to engage with their children while walking and exercising.
Getting There: The park is just off Highway 14, but be aware there are several railroad tracks if you go through town - go slow!
Know Before You Go: The camping sites are very spread out in this park, and only one of them is a pull through. We found it easiest to park, and walk through the sites first, before selecting a campsite.

Local Stuff: We've put links to local attractions we visited on the RV Park Review page (at the top of the blog).  There is also a small museum for Mitchell County which we didn't find time to visit.  If you need a  laundromat , there is one downtown.  The nearest grocery story is Ray's Apple Market and there is also a local farmer's market on Wednesdays in the summer, from 4-6pm.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Staying at Meade City Park

We boondocked at Meade City Park for two days. The park has several gravel spots for RVs, with picnic tables and water spigots. The park was originally created for travelers in the 20's when Highway 54 opened. The park is charming, with large trees and several WPA-era buildings and structures. The town's pool is also located at this park. 

Digression: Meade is named after General Meade, who won the Battle of Gettysburg. Meade was also an engineer, and built several lighthouses!

Address: Off of Highway 54 - eastern side of Meade

Dog Friendly: There is no designated areas for dogs at this park, but there are plenty of places to walk.
Motorcycle Friendly: This park's roads are either gravel or paved, and well maintained. The town, on the other hand, believes in the 'slush and pray' method. There isn't, however, quite enough traffic to actually compress the slush into an adequate road surface.  We would definitely urge caution while driving in Meade!

Cell Service/Wifi: Verizon was 3-4 bars, without a booster.
Amenities: The park has bathrooms, and numerous water spigots. There are no electrical hook ups, but both pavilions do have 110 outlets.  There is also a dump station just past the city pool, at the far end of the park.

Getting There: The park is directly off of I-54.

Local Stuff: The park is less than a mile from the Dalton Gang Hideout and the Meade Historical Museum.  If you need groceries, there is a Walmart about thirty minutes away.

Staying at Pontchartrain Landing

(another catch up post. We promise we only have a couple more of these!)

We stayed at Pontchartrain Landing for eight days. We got a special deal because we were there for an Escappees HOP, but we understand there are different prices, depending on where in the park you want to stay.

Address: 7001 France Rd, New Orleans, LA 70126

Dog Friendly: The park does not have any specified areas for dogs. Because this park sits in an industrial area of New Orleans, there wasn't any other options near the park to walk a dog either. We choose to board Crockett during most of our stay, and Pet Paradise in Kenner was wonderful. In fact, Pet Paradise might've gone a bit overboard in trying to take care of our oh so neurotic baby. We warned them Crockett is a finicky eater who skips meals regularly, but still got several calls from staff who 'just wanted to let us know Crockett was refusing to eat'. Um, yes, we know - he doesn't even eat for us sometimes!
Motorcycle Friendly: This park's roads are gravel. While the RV park's roads are maintained, France Road and many other New Orleans roads are in very poor condition. Add in New Orlean's traffic and we'd recommend using extreme caution while riding here.
Cell Service/Wifi: Verizon was 2-3 bars, without a booster. The park does offer free wifi, but it only seems to work in the restaurant area.

Amenities: The park has two sets of bathrooms, both with showers. There is also a pool, and a hot tub. There were minor maintenance issues with the bathrooms while we stayed here. The park does offer propane, and has one of the nicer restaurants we've seen in a RV park.

Getting There: You will need to take France Road to reach this park. The road is poorly maintained, and not RV-friendly, so go slow! 
Know Before You Go: Although it bills itself as a resort, it feels like the owners are more worried about keeping expenses low, and doing the bare minimum to keep the park going. There are numerous long-term RVs in poor condition, dead plants in the landscaping, and obvious maintenance issues.
Another example is the shuttle. The park's website says it offers shuttle service, but the shuttle only runs a couple of times a day, stops at 8 pm, and costs $6 a round trip. Even worse, the designated pick up area in the French Quarter is right next to a restaurant's trash cans - yuck! Having said all of this, we talked to campers who make frequent trips to New Orleans, and they say this is the best of the RV parks in the immediate area. 
Local Stuff: Duuude, it's New Orleans! Oh, and there is a Walmart within ten  minutes of the park.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Staying at Elk City Lake Park

We stayed at Elk City Lake Park for four days. The park is run by the city and RVs are allowed to stay for up to four days for free, within a 30 day time period.

Address: D1137 Rd, Elk City, OK 73644

Dog Friendly: The park does not have a dog yard, but there are many areas to walk away from the lake, which is well-used by the locals. There is a trail around the lake, but it's designed for bicycles, and is a bit too rough for dog-walking.
Motorcycle Friendly: The park's roads are paved and well-maintained. There also a great motorcycle road around the lake. Although we'd like the road to be a little less straight, there is enough hills and great views to make up for the lack of bends.

Cell Service/Wifi: Verizon is 3-4 bars, without a booster.
Amenities: Each site has electric hook ups and there is a nearby pavilion with picnic tables. There is water, but connecting requires a very long hose! There is an older bathroom near the RV sites that doesn't have doors, and isn't in very good shape. There is another bathhouse further from the campsites which does have bathrooms, as well as a shower. The shower requires you to hold down a button, however, so you need to be a wee bit limber!

Getting There: Elk City Lake Park is right off of Highway 40 and well-marked. Our GPS, however, routed us through a surburban neighborhood. The roads through the neighorhood were wide and easy to navigate, but we suggest checking your GPS if you'd rather not drive through a neighborhood!
Know Before You Go: The park only has five RV spots, and stayed full while we were there. There are several places other places at the lake where you can boondock overnight while waiting for a spot.

Local Stuff: Elk City has a five museum complex just minutes from the park, which only costs $5.00 for full admission. There is also another Highway 66 museum in Clinton, which is $7.00. Washita Battleground National Site is about 40 minutes away, and is free. There is a Walmart about 10 minutes from the park if you need groceries.

Staying at the Palo Duro Canyon

We stayed at Palo Duro Canyon for three days. There are three RV campgrounds at this park and costs depend on the campground. Fees can be found here.  We were told by other RVers the park only works on reservations - they will turn away campers without reservations even if there are available sites.

Address: 11450 State Hwy Park Rd 5, Canyon, TX 79015

Dog Friendly: The park does not have any areas set aside for dogs. We would recommend using caution when walking a dog in this park. This is the Texas Panhandle, so there are many plants in this area that are not dog-friendly. Also, the canyon often sees high temperatures, and you should take steps to make sure your dog doesn't overheat.
Motorcycle Friendly: This park has a road that loops around the base of the canyon and is about 15 miles long. The road is paved and well-maintained, but there may be loose gravel and/or dirt in pull over areas and parking lots.

Cell Service/Wifi: There is no cell service in the park, except by the front entrance.
Amenities: Each site has a electric and water, and a pavilion. The pavilions are only partially covered, so do not provide much shade. Each campground has a bathhouse with showers. The bathhouses are clean, but the bathhouse at one campground was closed for repairs while we were there. There is also a small camp store, which serves sandwiches, some camping items (like water and sunscreen) and tourist items.

Getting There: Reaching the park is easy - just follow 217 until it ends at the park entrance.
Know Before You Go: There is an outdoor musical show called Texas performed each summer at the park's amphitheater. Information on the musical can be found here.  Because of the rock walls, you should expect park temperatures  to be higher than the surrounding area.

The park was developed in the 30s, and the road down into the canyon is a 10% grade. There are also a few fairly sharp curves. We did see some bigger Class As and fifth wheels camping in the park, so its certainly doable - but you definitely need to be familiar with your particular vehicle's gears and brake system.
Local Stuff: If you like to hike, the canyon has many hiking trails and great vistas. If you need more to do, the park is also only 30 minutes from Amarillo. There is also a Walmart only 15 minutes away in Canyon, Texas.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Guess this is our Meade Haul?

After stopping for lunch at the Washita Battleground, we continue north. The weather continues to be threatening, with heavy storm clouds on the horizon. 
We make one last stop in Oklahoma. Woodward was part of the Cherokee Outlet, the biggest land rush in United State history - way back in 1893.
We overnight at the Walmart and watch our last Oklahoma sunset.
The next day we push north and reach Kansas. We cross the state line and notice one thing immediately - the roads are much better maintained.
For the next hour we wind our way through southern Kansas. 
Ready for another diversion? Today, Kansas is America's breadbasket and the top producer of quite a lot of our food, including wheat and soybeans. Back in the 19th century, nobody woud've seen that as the territory's future.  Kansas took many long and difficult years to become a state, which inspired the state's motto "Ad astra per aspera." That translates as "to the stars through difficulty". 
From 1854 to 1861, the territory became a battlefield between abolitionists and those who were pro-slavery.  The violent confrontations earned the state the nickname "Bleeding Kansas". In 1860, a severe drought hit, and its estimated as many as 1/3 of the settlers pulled up stakes and left. 

After several years and multiple attempts at writing constitution, the abolitionists finally won the day and submitted a finished constitution. Kansas became a free state in 1861 - just four months before the Civil War began.
 The drought would also create conditions ripe for dust storms, and farming would continue to be a struggle through the 1880s. By the 1920s, Kansas finally seemed to be fertile farmland - then came another drought, and the great Dust Bowl of 1935. This  would lead to some major, and necessary, changes in how prairie land is farmed.
So, yep, next time you get stuck behind a Kansas farmer (like we did) just be thankful his family was too tenacious to quit! 
We finally pull off  Highway 54, stopping at Meade's City Park. The park was started way back in the 1920s, by business men who wanted to cater to the tourists traveling along Highway 54. Today, the city still allows RVs to park overnight for free.
Meade's real claim to fame, though, is the being home to the Dalton Gang Hideout
In 1887, J.N.. Whipple married Eva Dalton, and built his new bride a house in Meade. Eva was one of 15 children (some sources say 17). Her oldest brother Frank had become a lawman, and three other brothers followed suit. When these three weren't paid for their services, they turned to crime. Two of the brothers were killed during a bank robbery in Coffeyville in 1892, the last brother was captured and sent to prison.
One more digression! Eva's mother was Adeline Younger. She was the aunt of  Cole, Bob, and Jim Younger. These three men were also outlaws, and rode with Frank and Jesse James.