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YEAR #2 - STOP #61

On travel days, as we near our arrival at a new campground, we start paying attention to where the nearest gas station, laundromat, grocery store and restaurants are. Today when we arrived here at Merrisach Lake Park we knew we were going to be driving farther than usual to locate those kinds of places.

The closest town to our campsite is Tichnor (pop. 175) at a mere 10 miles away, the next town up the road is Gillett (pop. 691), but now we are 18.5 miles from home. Neither of these towns have any of the places we are looking for. If you head north from Gillett you'll find De Witt (pop. 3292), 24.5 miles away, and if you head south you'll find Dumas (pop. 4706), 39 miles away. If you are wondering, the nearest Walmart is 49 miles away in Stuttgart (pop. 8773). Are you getting the picture here?

We are located in a remote area of farming communities in southeastern Arkansas, just a few miles from where the Arkansas and Mississippi Rivers converge. This area is now very rich and fertile bottom land created centuries ago when these two rivers were much larger and covered the entire region.

This week I plan to get a few projects crossed off my list and hopefully Tricia can get some of her work done. We do have a few distractions like a gorgeous waterfront site with white pelicans, egrets and great blue herons flying around us all the time. We are surrounded by water on three sides at the end of a peninsula. We get all this, with water and electric hookups, private hot showers and flush toilets, at the bargain basement price of just $9.50 a night (using our 50% off Lifetime Senior Pass) at this U.S. Army Corp of Engineers campground.

Too bad they have a 14-day stay limit!

We have wonderful sunset views out our rear dinette windows.

And the view out the side windows isn't too bad either.

I almost forgot to show you the wonderful sunsets behind our site.

FRIDAY - We have been on our campsite since Monday. After a day of rain and a few days of absolutely chilly weather we are headed into town today. Located between the towns of Gillett and Dumas is the Arkansas Post National Memorial. This location was a trading post on the Arkansas River for more than 300 years. It's where the local Quapaw Indians and the early Spanish and French explorers met to exchange goods. Today nothing is left of the old trading post, but the Visitor Center had a 22-minute documentary film explaining the history of the post and a museum displaying many artifacts recovered during excavation of the grounds.

Since we are already half way to medium sized town of Dumas we decided to go ahead and get our laundry chores done, along with groceries and gasoline. There was also a decent BBQ joint in town for our lunch needs. We didn't make it back to Tichnor in time to pick up our mail at the small post office because they are only open 2 hours a day from 12:30-2:30PM. Guess we'll have to save that for tomorrow!

SATURDAY - I have only got one thing on my to do list today, go into town and pick up my mail. It sounds like a simple process doesn't it? Three days ago I contacted my mail forwarding company in Pensacola, FL and asked them to gather all my mail, discard the obvious junk-mail, put it all in one envelope and send it to my attention, in care of General Delivery, to the Tichnor Post Office address I supplied them.

With only one exception in the last 18 months that procedure has worked flawlessly. Two months ago around Labor Day things didn't go as planned. I had the mail sent to the post office in Springfield, OH (pop. 60,608) and according to them the envelope never showed up. I asked what would happen to it if it showed up after I left town in three days and they assured me it would be held for seven days and then returned to the sender. OK, no problem! I'll just have to receive it with next months mail.

Only after 30 days and dozens of phone calls to both parties involved the envelope was never located. Tricia's monthly paycheck was among the lost items and we're not aware of anything else of importance that was in the envelope. Today I'm finally picking up the mail, which includes the replacement paycheck, in the small town Post Office of Tichnor.

The very efficient Tichnor Post Office!

Today I walked in to the post office, an elderly gentleman asked me "can I help you"? I said I was there to pick up a general delivery envelope. He said, "You must be Philip Kelley"! I said I was. He asked me for identification, scanned to bar code on the envelope, handed it to me, I said "Thank You" and I was on my way home. That's the way it's supposed to work. I'm sticking to small town post offices from now on!

SUNDAY - Today I'm knocking off three small chores I've been putting off for too long. We carry around a large 50-quart 5-day wheeled cooler as a backup in case our refrigerator ever quits working. We store it inside THE POD whenever we change campsites and then move it back outside when we arrive at our new destination.

With all that moving in and out it seems the axle holding the wheels on has worn out it's ability to stay attached to the cooler. I few small screws and a couple mending brackets has now fixed that problem.

The next project is to finish installing our window poppers. The windows on THE POD seal up so well that if we don't open them frequently they become stuck to the rubber gasket that makes the window waterproof. Since all the windows have screens in them there is no way to push the glass from the inside to open the window when the handles can't effectively operate. When this occurs you have to go outside and break the seal by pulling the window open.

By drilling a 3/16" hole through the window casing below the screen it allows the Window Popper to push on the glass from the inside. We bought a pack of 4 several months ago and were happy with them so we ordered 2 more so that now we have one on every window. No more running in and out of THE POD just to open the windows.

Last on the list for today is to install a Bluetooth amplifier on the front tongue of THE POD. It wires directly into the battery up front and we use it to boost the connection between ROVER and the tire pressure monitors we installed on the trailer and truck tires. It should also help with receiving a signal from our Level Mate Pro located inside THE POD. It lets us know when the trailer is level without even leaving the cab of the truck. If it extends the range between my Bluetooth speaker and iPhone that will be a bonus.

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