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Delaware to Missouri and Back in 1999
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This was a trip from Delaware to Missouri and back again, taking the long and scenic way. Elaine’s youngest daughter was graduating from Army boot camp in Fort Leonardwood and was heading to Texas for nurses training. We left Delaware on Saturday morning the 17th of April, spent four days going out, a day and a half out there for the graduating ceremonies and then three and a half days returning to Delaware.
 


Day #1 Saturday 4-17-99 Delaware to Elkins WV. We loaded up most of the things last night but have a few last minute things to finish up this morning. By 10:45 AM we are headed down the road under sunny skies and 59°. We go down I-95 to Baltimore and then take I-695 around the west side of the city. These roads are smooth blacktop which make for nice driving. The redbud and flowering crab apple trees are in bloom making for some good scenery. We take I-70 west to Frederick, MD where we pick up routes #15 and #340 south. The scenery turns to rolling hills which are aglow with redbuds, crabapples, bradford pears and forsythia. We cross over the Potomac and the Shenandoah which are both great whitewater paddling rivers. The Shenandoah area called the “Staircase” runs under the route #340 bridge and is really great for whitewater boating. I stop at the entrance to Harper’s Ferry National Park and inquire about getting a Golden Access Passport. The “Rangerette” tells me I only have to show a drivers license and sign a form to get one, so I do that and now have a lifetime free pass to all the National Parks and also a 50% discount on all National Park and National Forest campground fees. Sounds like a bargain to me! We enter the park and stop for lunch as it is now 1:30 PM. Already saved $5.00 as that is the normal entrance fee for this park. Enjoy a nice hot cup of herbal tea and a ham and cheese sandwich on rye. Stop at the West Virginia visitor center just across the road from the park and gather some information and a new state map. Back on the road by 3:00 PM, we head south on route #340, stopping in Charles Town, WV. to fill up on gas, 16.8 gallon at $1.09. Charles Town is a really nice little town of older homes and is very attractive with all the flowering trees in bloom this time of year. We follow route #340 south to route # 7 in Virginia, then head west toward Winchester. Pass by a gas station with gas for $1.03 which is six cents cheaper than we just paid, but that is how it usually goes. Gas is always cheaper just down the road from where you fill up. Leave route #7 at I-81 and head south to exit #296, Strasburg, Virginia. Pick up route #55 west which the atlas shows as a scenic road. 
Redbud treesThis is a small two lane blacktop road which is just ablaze with redbud trees. About five miles from West Virginia the road starts climbing steadily uphill till we reach the state line at the top of the mountain. Welcome to West Virginia! “9% downgrade next 4 miles” The drive is a steep and winding road but very scenic with all the trees in bloom. The woods along here are a 50/50 mix of evergreen and deciduous trees, which haven’t quite gotten their leaves yet. This makes for better views than you would have if all the leaves were on the trees. A small mountain stream has followed the road for some time now.
Cabins along the creekTwo more twisting 9% grades and then an 8% grade as we come down off the mountain. After 47 miles of twisting hairpin turns on scenic mountainous route #55 we take a turn onto scenic route #220 south at Moorefield. Follow this route for 12 to 14 miles, passing over the south branch of the Potomac River which looks like another nice float stream. In Petersburg we turn onto scenic routes #28 south and then #55 west. We pass by Smoke Hole Caverns where they have a lot of neat little log cabins with stone chimneys and fireplaces. They're located right on the riverfront against a backdrop of tall cliffs which are just across the river.
Senaca RocksPass by the Seneca Rocks which is a very scenic area  then turn onto scenic route #33 west toward Elkins. After one 9% downgrade, we start climbing up into the mountains where the temperature drops to 35° and it starts to snow. Eight miles shy of Elkins we stop at Revelles campground which sets along a beautiful mountain stream. We get there just as the office is closing for the night and get us a site with water, electric, and cable hook-up. This site is nestled in next to a row of large pine trees and the cost is $15 plus 43 cents tax. Not knowing how far the temperature will drop tonight, we opt to not hook up the water, but do hook up to the electric and cable TV. We crank up the heat then fix us a nice warm dinner of soup, cheese and crackers and a cup of hot chocolate. Watch some TV and then get ready for bed. We drove 310 miles our first day out.

Day #2 Sunday 4-18-99 Elkins WV. to Ironton OH. Woke up about 7:00 AM to rain and snow mixed and 35 outside. It has rained all night, heavy at times. We grab hot showers in the camper, it sure is nice to have your own shower and not have to use the campground's. Enjoy us a breakfast of fresh fruit and hot tea and then get ready to head on down the road. I ask the campground owner if he has a modem hook-up for camper’s computers and he says... "A  what?", so I gather that he does not. This campground is along a mountain stream and only about a half mile off of route #33. They have fairly clean heated bathrooms and 2 showers each for men and women with plenty of hot water. Talking with a fellow camper who comes up here on a regular basis, we find out that this is the coldest spot in West Virginia and is at 3800 foot elevation. Just our luck to pick the coldest spot in the state to camp. We had originally planned to take scenic routes #219 south to #15 to #20 to #41 to #19 to #60 and stop off at Babcock State Park but with the rain and not being able to see much scenery, we decide to take route #33 west toward I-79. Route #33 is somewhat scenic with all the mountain streams and views. The hillsides are loaded with rhododendron which will probably be beautiful in about another month or so when they bloom. By 11:00 AM the rain quits and the temperature climbs to 43. We pick up route I-79 south towards Charleston, West Virginia where we plan to visit with my cousin and his family. This road is typical of most interstates and not very scenic at all except for a few scattered redbud trees. The road surface is bumpy cement and the speed limit is 70 MPH here in WV. Stop at a rest stop near mile marker #85 and find the rest rooms to be clean.... they also have a dump station for campers. We pull off at the town of Flatwoods to fill up on gas which takes 27.6 gallon at $1.13. Speak with a local in the gas station and he says that route #4 south which follows the interstate is a nice road along the Elk River. He suggests going down one more exit on the interstate then getting off exit #62 at Gassaway.
Log cabinThe road through Gassaway is really winding and not very scenic but then route #4 crosses under I-79 and picks up the Elk River. Here it becomes more scenic as it runs down the east side of the interstate. The dogwood trees are in full bloom here as we pass by many little cabins along the river that look like “handyman specials” or what a real estate sales person would call a “fixer upper”. Route #4 is a two lane blacktop road that is slower moving than the interstate but much more scenic and a lot less traffic. We drive through numerous small towns stopping occasionally to take photos of things like log cabins....
Swinging bridge....or scenic footbridges. By 1:30 PM the temperature has climbed to 50°. Pass by a road called Twistabout road, which sounds interesting, but not with a camper. The river has left the road for a ways but a small stream is flowing beside the road and it’s banks are just loaded with either mountain laurel or rhododendron which should be really beautiful when it comes into bloom. At the town of Clendenin route #4 ends on route #119, so we take #119 across to I-79. My cousin had sent directions to his house from I-79 so we think the easiest way to find him will be to get back on the interstate. We go down 2 exits and get off at exit #5 for Big Chimney and Elkview, WV. Following his directions we find ourselves back onto route #119 north and had we stayed on that road we would have come right to his house.
CampsiteJoe whom we had met last night over in the Iron Ridge section of this park comes by this morning with his wife and we talk for about an hour and exchange names and addresses. They're from Cincinnati and have a cabin on Drummond Island in the upper peninsula of Michigan. They invite us to stop up and visit their cabin sometime. We just might do that! OK, it is now 10:30 AM and 48 with the sun peeking through the clouds as we are once again ready to get on the road. That is, if we don’t run into anyone else to talk with. The dogwoods and redbuds are beautifully abundant in this park which is very scenic. We drive back down to Ironton (which they claim was once the center of southern Ohio’s pig iron industry) to fill up with 20.4 gallons of gas at $1.09 per gallon.
Old barnHead west on 4 lane route #52 following the Ohio River which has some rocky cliffs and redbud trees but is not real scenic. At Sugar Grove the road turns into 2 lanes and is supposed to become more scenic according to the atlas but does not really meet with our definition of scenic. We pass through the town of Rome but it’s not what we had expected Italy to look like. Pass lots of old barns with “Chew Mail Pouch Tobacco” signs painted on them. The farther west we go, the more scenic this road becomes. Pass through many small towns and by some interesting road signs like the one for “Lick Skillet” road.
Log one room school houseMakes you wonder where they get the names for some of these roads. At Aberdeen we turn left and cross over the Ohio River into Kentucky where we pick up route #68 west. This is also supposed to be a scenic road. From what we can see of Maysville as we pass through, it looks like it might be a fairly good sized town. By 12:30 PM the temperature is up to 61°. Route #68 goes through rolling hills covered with bright green grass. Stop to take a picture of an interesting old one room log building that was probably once a schoolhouse or a church. Stop for lunch at Blue Lick Battlefield State Park. This is a small park with clean rest rooms, picnic areas, a swimming pool and a small campground. Back on the road at 1:45 PM we head west on #68 towards the town of Paris. WOW, we get to go to Paris and Rome all in the same day. At Paris we take route #460 west, another so called scenic road which goes through horse country. There are some really huge horse farms along here with miles of fencing. We pass by a tractor trailer that has slid off this narrow two lane road and wiped out a telephone pole and some of the fence. There are no shoulders on this road and the edge of the blacktop is about a 6 inch drop onto a sloping grassy bank. He must have gotten too close to the edge of the road. Turn onto route #60 south where we stop for 16.9 gallons of gas at $1.04. Turn onto route #676 west which will take us across to #127 south. Route #127 south takes us to the Kentucky Blue Grass Parkway. This road was recommended by Joe whom we met in the campground last night.... he says it has light traffic and is somewhat scenic. It's a four lane divided blacktop road that is fairly smooth. Lots of flowering trees mainly redbud and evergreens make it a rather scenic drive. This parkway ends at Elizabethtown where we take two miles of I-65 south then pick up the Western Kentucky Parkway. This is also a 4 lane divided blacktop road with some small stretches of bumpy cement. One thing about these Kentucky parkways is that there is no stopping except for emergencies. Pass by signs for at least three state parks along here. By 6:30 PM the temperature has climbed to a warm 70 degrees. Again Elaine does her usual great job of picking a campsite for this evening. I estimate where we will end up each day and she looks around that area for a reasonably priced site. Tonight is to be at Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park near Dawson Springs at mile marker #24 of the parkway. We take route #109 south and stop again to fill up on gas, 19.6 gallons at $1.06. While paying for the gas I notice some good looking fried chicken and roasted potatoes for sale, so I grab some of each for dinner tonight. Cooks night off tonight! Yay! We drive on down to the campground and find that the office is closed this early in the year and we have to go back up to the lodge to register.  Head up to the lodge to get a site and they inform us that we have crossed a time zone back near Lexington and it is now one hour earlier than we had thought. We were wondering why the sun was setting so much later tonight! Sites are $12 for a water and electric hook-up with a 15% discount for Golden Access Card holders so that comes to $10.20. Coming down the road from the lodge we have to stop as three deer cross the road about a hundred feet in front of us. All sites do have water and electric but are shared utilities and that makes it so that some of the hook-ups are on the wrong side or even too far away for convenient hook up. Although there are blacktop pads to park on, many of them are not very level for RV parking. We try four sites before we finally find one that suits us with being fairly level and having the utilities within reach. Luckily there are only four other campers in here tonight so we have many sites to pick from. They do have clean bathrooms with hot showers and the whole campground is well kept and clean. They have laundry facilities here as well as a pay phone and a large lake for fishing and boating. We hook up to the utilities and this being the first night out that we’ve had a water hook-up will allow for longer hot showers tonight! Eat the fried chicken and taters for dinner and then take a walk around the campground and notice that the campsites at the far back end of the park are somewhat more level than down in the front area where we were. Get ready for bed at 9:30 PM. We have driven 370 miles today.

Day #3 Monday 4-19-99   Ironton OH. to Dawson Springs KY. Awoke at 7:00 AM to cloudy overcast skies and no running water in the camper.
Fixed a breakfast of scrambled eggs, ham, hot tea and rye toast. Tore  the water pump apart after breakfast and cleaned it out and upon reassembling it, things seem to work fine. May have had something in it although I saw nothing. Told Elaine that last night was just a test to see if she could live without running water for an evening. She passed with flying colors! The propane tank ran out this morning as we were getting ready to leave at 9:30 AM so we switched over to the full tank and are ready to hit the road. Joe whom we had met last night over in the Iron Ridge section of this park came by this morning with his wife and we talked for about an hour and exchanged names and addresses. They are from Cincinnati and have a cabin on Drummond Island in the upper peninsula of Michigan. They invited us to stop up and visit their cabin sometime. We just might do that! OK, it is now 10:30 AM and 48 degrees with the sun peeking through the clouds as we are once again ready to get on the road. That is, if we don’t run into anyone else to talk with. The dogwoods and redbuds are beautifully abundant in this park which is very scenic. Drove back down to Ironton (which they claim was once the center of southern Ohio’s pig iron industry) to fill up 20.4 gallons of gas at $1.09. Headed west on 4 lane route #52 following the Ohio River which has some rocky cliffs and redbud trees but is not real scenic. At Sugar Grove the road turns to 2 lane and is supposed to become more scenic according to the atlas but does not really meet with my definition of scenic. Passed through the town of Rome but it’s not what I had expected Italy to look like.  Passing lots of old barns with “Chew Mail Pouch Tobacco” signs painted on them. The farther west we go the more scenic this road becomes. Passed through many small towns and by some interesting road signs like the one for “Lick Skillet” road. Makes you wonder where they get the names for some of these roads. At Aberdeen we turn left and cross over the Ohio River into Kentucky where we pick up route #68 west. This is also supposed to be a scenic road. From what we can see of Maysville as we pass through it looks like it might be a fairly good sized town. By 12:30 PM the temperature is up to 61 degrees out. Route #68 goes through rolling hills covered with bright green grass. Stopped at Blue Lick Battlefield State Park to grab some lunch. It is a small park with clean rest rooms, picnic areas, a swimming pool and a small campground. Back on the road at 1:45 PM headed west on #68 towards the town of Paris. WOW, we get to go to Paris and Rome all in the same day. At Paris we took route #460 west, another so called scenic road which goes through horse country. There are some really huge horse farms along here with miles of fences. Passed by a tractor trailer that slid off this narrow two lane road and wiped out a telephone pole and some of that fence. There are no shoulders on this road and the edge of the blacktop is about a 6 inch drop onto a sloping grassy bank. He must have gotten too close to the edge of the road. Turned onto route #60 south where we stopped for 16.9 gallons of gas at $1.04. Turned onto route #676 west which will take us across to #127 south. Rain started to fall at 3:45 PM and the temperature dropped from 63 down to 50 degrees very quickly. Route #127 south took us to the Kentucky Blue Grass Parkway. This road was recommended by Joe whom we met in the campground last night. He said it has little traffic is somewhat scenic. It is a four lane divided blacktop road that is fairly smooth. Lots of flowering trees mainly redbud and evergreens make it a rather scenic drive. At 5:00 PM the rain stopped, the sun came back out and the temperature climbed back to 63 degrees. This parkway ends at Elizabethtown where we take two miles of I-65 south then pick up the Western Kentucky Parkway. This is also a 4 lane divided blacktop road with some small stretches of bumpy cement. One thing about these Kentucky parkways is that there is no stopping except for emergencies. Passed by signs for at least three state parks along here. By 6:30 PM the temperature has climbed to a warm 70 degrees. Passed by some construction mainly on the other side of the road and it looks like they are putting down new blacktop over most of the cement roadway. Again Elaine has done her usually great job of picking a campsite for this evening. I estimate where we will end up each day and she looks around that area for a reasonably priced site. Tonight is to be at Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park near Dawson Springs at mile marker #24 of the parkway. Took route #109 south and stopped again to fill up on gas, 19.6 gallons at $1.06. While paying for the gas I noticed some good looking fried chicken and roasted potatoes for sale, so I grabbed some of each for dinner tonight. Cooks night off tonight! Yea! Drove on down to the campground and found that the office was closed this early in the year and you had to go up to the lodge to register so we drove up to the lodge to get a site. They informed us that we have crossed a time zone back near Lexington and it is now one hour earlier than we had thought. We wondered why the sun was setting so much later tonight! Sites are $12 for a water and electric hook-up with a 15% discount for disabled people so that came to $10.20. Coming down the road from the lodge we had to stop as three deer crossed the road about a hundred feet in front of us. All sites do have water and electric but are shared utilities so that makes it so that some of the hook-ups are on the wrong side or even too far away for convenient hook up. Although there are blacktop pads to park on many of them are not very level for RV parking. We tried four sites before we finally found one that suited us with being fairly level and having the utilities within reach. Luckily there are only four other campers in here tonight so we had many sites to pick from. They do have clean bathrooms with hot showers and the whole campground is well kept and clean. They have laundry facilities here as well as a pay phone and a large lake for fishing and boating. Hooked up to the utilities, this being the first night out that we’ve had water hook-up. This allows for longer hot showers tonight! Ate the fried chicken and taters for dinner and then took a walk around the campground and noticed that the campsites at the far back side of the park are somewhat more level than down in the front area where we were. Got ready for bed at 9:30 PM.  We have driven 370 miles today.

Day #4 Tuesday 4-20-99 Dawson Springs KY. to Fort Leonardwood MO. Awake at 7:00 AM after a good night’s rest. It was very quiet here in the park which made for good sleeping. Living at home in the woods is so quiet and peaceful but really gets you spoiled as any noise at night tends to disturb my sleep. Get washed, dressed and fix a breakfast of oatmeal with apples and cinnamon and some hot herbal tea. Look over our maps to pick out a route for today and decide on some backroads down to the Land Between The Lakes which is supposed to be a really scenic area. It’s 57 and sunny out at 9:00 AM as I dump the holding tanks and get us ready to pull out of the campground. Take a left turn out of the campground and drive down a steep hill to view the lake before we leave. Looks to be a good sized lake with various boats available for rental. Winding our way back up the hill we pass some scenic rocky bluffs that are at the back end of the campground. This road would not be advised for larger RVs as it does have some hairpin turns. We turn south onto route #398 that takes us through the park on what looks to be a one lane blacktop road with a yellow line down the middle, pretending to be a two lane road. As we come out of the park the road widens into a two lane road with a deep drop off the edge of what appears to be new blacktop. A very scenic and winding drive through here with many evergreen and redbud trees. Turn right onto route #91 then within half a mile turn left onto route #124 which is Cedar Creek road. This is another narrow little one and a half lane road with a yellow line down the middle. We pass scenic hillsides dotted with barns and cattle, slow down to allow a small cow to get off the road and then proceed on down the road with caution, looking out for other critters. This road ends at a tee in the road and has no signs as to where #124 goes, so I head south on Shady Lane road as I know we want to head southwest. Having the compass and temperature indicator on the overhead console sure does help when you are in doubt of where to go. We are NOT lost, I just don’t know where we are YET? According to our brand new 1999 Kentucky map, route #124 was supposed to go all the way to route #139 but ended at a dead end. So much for following a map! As we come to another tee in the road we see a sign for #124 to the right. YAY! I knew all along where we were .......yeah right! My navigator is doing a great job. A drive through these backroads of Kentucky lets you see what the people live like and gives you a view of the countryside which is mainly rolling hills and farm land in this area. Just crossed over I-24 so that goes to show that there is some civilization around here and we are not totally lost. Drive through the town of Cadiz where we pick up routes #68 and #80 west. It is 15 miles to Land Between the Lakes where we plan to head north between the lakes on a road that shows no route number on the map. Cross over the first lake which is Lake Barkley on a very long and narrow  bridge which is a little scary as I have to pass a tractor trailer that is hanging slightly over into my lane. Look for the road without a number but never find it as we are now crossing the Kentucky Lake bridge which is also very long and narrow. We take #68 up the west side of the lake through a little town called Fairdealing. Pick up the Purchase Parkway at exit #47 and head north to exit #52 where we get on route I-24 west towards Paducah, KY. A typical non scenic interstate road but sometimes we have to use them to connect one backroad with another. Get off exit #4 after 21 miles of interstate (that was enough) and pick up route #60 west which is wide two lane blacktop and fairly scenic. By 11:45 AM the temperature has climbed to 70 under sunny skies. A passing truck throws up a rock, hits the windshield on the lower left side and leaves us with a one inch starburst. Hopefully it will not run across the windshield until we get home. I just had a new windshield put in about two months ago from another trip. Not having much luck with windshields! Drive through the towns of Kevil and Barlow then finally reach the Mississippi River at the town of Wickliffe where there are many dogwood and azaleas as well as redbuds in full bloom. Route #60 picks up and runs with route #62 west over a series of two long and very narrow two lane (?) bridges over the mighty Mississippi. Welcome to Missouri! Found the right state, now all we have to do is to find Fort Leonardwood! We drive through Charleston (which claims to be the home of the dogwood and azalea festival) and make a stop to restock a few groceries which comes to $25.62. Get on I-57 south for a short distance and bump along on a cement road. Pass by I-55 and get back onto #60 west which is 4 lane divided highway and alternates from bumpy cement to fairly smooth blacktop. As we head west away from the Mississippi River, the land starts to take on some rolling hills. Just pass Popular Bluff, route #60 turns into a 2 lane road heading west and starts climbing upward into the hills. The many pine trees lining the roadside, some rocky cuts through the hills and a few views from the hilltops make for semi-scenic driving. Stop for gas and get 24.7 gallons at 99 cents. Someone at the service station  recommends Pine Woods Lake in the Mark Twain National Forest about 5 miles down the road as a nice rest stop. We stop there, park with a beautiful view of the lake surrounded by pine trees and have us a ham and cheese sandwich on rye and some iced tea for lunch. The temperature is up to 75 now at 3:45 PM as we head west on #60 looking for route #19 north over the mountains. At Winona we find and turn onto route #19 north, a small 2 lane road with good blacktop. This is supposed to be a scenic road? Pass a lot of Mark Twain National Forest picnic areas as we climb steadily upward into the mountains through the town of Eminence. Speed limit in this town is 20 MPH, the slowest speed limit I’ve ever seen. Just had a woman on a riding lawn mower pass by me! Crossing over a river and then passing a canoe livery makes it look as though we are in canoe country. My kind of place! This town can’t be that bad if they have a river and some canoes. If winding and twisting roadways constitute a scenic drive then this road is very scenic. Getting just a few nice mountaintop views in here but not enough for me to call it a scenic road. Enter the Ozark Scenic River Byways, cross two narrow bridges over the Current River and the Sinking Creek, then pass by three more canoe liveries. Coming down off the mountain we pass through Gladden and then into Salem. Turn onto route #72 west toward the town of Rolla which is just off of I-44. Stop 4 miles shy of Rolla for 15 minutes to stretch our legs, make a pit stop and get us a drink. It is 6:45 PM and 80 degrees out as we drive through Rolla then pick up route I-44 west toward Fort Leonardwood 23 miles away. I-44 is a very bumpy cement roadway with lots of tractor trailer traffic. Get off at exit #156 for Waynesville and go down road H then road #17 to look for two campgrounds located in town. Find them but neither looks like they are much. Back onto I-44 west we go to exit #153 to check out Glen Oaks campground which is a Good Sam park. It is a nice little park but located right on the interstate with lots of traffic noise so I pass it by thinking we would not be able to get much sleep. Elaine goes back to the campground directory and comes up with a Super 8 Motel and RV park in St. Roberts but that one is also right on the interstate. Back onto I-44 we head east to exit #179 and the town of Newburg, Elaine’s next choice. We're having a real problem finding a site this evening! Head 3 miles west on Outer Drive road to the Arlington RV Park which looks as though it may do for tonight. No one is around as we pull in at 9:00 PM, but as we set there trying to decide what to do, the owner comes by in his pick-up truck and leads us to a site with full hook-ups for $12 + 57 cents tax. We’re far enough off the highway to barely hear the traffic noise. Hook us up the water and electric then fix a light snack of cheese and crackers and some juice to drink in lieu of dinner as we are more tired than hungry. Grab our showers and get ready for bed around 10:30 PM. We drove 401 miles today.


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