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Delaware to Missouri and Back in 1999
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Day #5 Wednesday 4-21-99 Fort Leonardwood MO. The rain had been heavy most of the night with lightening and thunder but we slept well in spite of the storm. Awoke at 7:30 AM and find that the rain has stopped. We wash up, get dressed and start breakfast. Have some ham, eggs, rye toast and hot tea then take a walk around the park to see what is here and to talk with a few fellow campers. The park is a Good Sam park that sets along Little Piney Creek, has large grassy sites with full hook-ups and picnic tables, clean but older bath houses with hot showers, laundry facilities, a playground, a swimming pool and although they have no fire rings at the sites, they do have some large group fire pits. Kelly in uniformBy 10:30 AM it is 70 out and we are on the road headed to Fort Leonardwood to check in and find out what is going on as far as Elaine’s daughter's graduation is concerned. Traffic is slowed down on I-44 this morning as there has been a major truck accident. A tractor trailer has overturned going around a bend too fast. The speed limit out here is 70 MPH but you need to slow down on some of the turns. Enter the base and find the information center on base by using the map that Kelly (Elaine's daughter) had sent us in the mail. Are told that there is an afternoon orientation session at 3:00 PM at the theater for all the guests and then a banquet at the Engineers club at 4:00 PM where you get to meet with your graduating recruit and have dinner. We drive over to the theater where we park and have some lunch. As we are having lunch, the graduating class marches by and Elaine tries to pick out Kelly but they all look alike in their uniforms. After lunch we drive past the Engineers club so we'll know where it is then drive down to a small primitive campground on the base. Turns out that it is just a grassy field along a small stream where you can park. Not much of a camping area! Head back over to the theater for the orientation at 3:00 PM and then over to the club at 4:00 PM for the banquet. The recruits come over at about 4:15 PM and Elaine gets to see her daughter, Kelly for the first time. There is lots of hugging and tears of joy among all the recruits and their families, having not seen each other for 9 to 12 weeks. We go inside and enjoy a good dinner and some comedy skits put on by the drill sergeants to imitate the recruits and some put on by the recruits to imitate the drill sergeants. By 6:30 PM we have finished dinner and are able to check Kelly out of her unit for an overnight pass along with one of her friends whose parents couldn’t make the graduation. The first place Kelly wants to go is the PX to buy a few items for her long 26 hour bus ride to Texas tomorrow. They have not heard any music for 9 weeks now and the first thing she buys is a miniature battery powered CD player. Elaine has brought her CDs from home and also her larger electric powered CD player. Both girls want to go to the grocery store, buy some junk food and sodas then just go back to the campground and relax. They sit outside at the picnic table all night listening to CDs and eating junk food. They say the best part of the evening is not being told by anyone what to do or how to do it. I’ve been through bootcamp so I know what they are talking about. They have to be back to their unit by 4:00 AM, so after spending some time with them Elaine and I try to lay down and grab a few hours sleep before we have to take them back. This gives them some time alone with each other as they have become close friends but are going to different bases for their advanced training and there is a chance they may never see each other again. We can’t really get any sleep as we're afraid we will doze off and sleep past their 4:00 AM return time. I can just see Elaine and I waking up at 7:00 AM to find the girls asleep at the picnic table. The Army does frown upon recruits being AWOL! Around 2:00 AM we convince the girls to head back to base so we can get a few hours sleep before the 8:00 AM graduation ceremonies. Heading back I notice that we are getting low on gas but can't find any stations open until we get back onto the base, so we stop at the base station. I'm told that I can’t buy gas there unless I have a military I D card so luckily one of the girls have their card with them and are able to buy the gas for us, 19.0 gallons at $1.04. We get the girls back to their barracks by 3:00 AM then head over to the theater where the graduation is to be at 8:00 AM today. Climbing into the camper, we go to sleep right there in the parking lot.

Day #6 Thursday 4-22-99 Fort Leonardwood MO. to St. Croix IN.
Was woke at 7:10 AM by the sound of troops marching outside the camper. We jump out of bed, quickly get washed, dressed, then run into the theater for the graduation ceremonies. Can’t miss the ceremony after all this driving to get here! The graduation goes well and we take plenty of photos of Kelly and her friends as well as her drill instructors. Kelly in uniformThe troops march over to their barracks and we follow them so we can see where they have been spending the last nine weeks. Take a few photos in the barracks, then we all head over to the mess hall where we get to eat lunch with Kelly. Wow, GI food, big treat! Although it really has improved considerably since I was in 30 years ago. We load Kelly’s large bag of things that she is not taking with her to Texas into the camper, then drive over to the area where she will be getting on the Greyhound bus. She is headed to Texas for 63 weeks of nurses training and will then serve as an Army nurse for the remainder of her time in the service. We say good-bye to Kelly, give her a big hug, wish her well in her training, take one more last photo of her waiting to get on the bus and then we start our long trip back home. The odometer reading on the truck is 45,241 or 1437 miles more than when we left home. It’s 1:30 PM and 74° out as we get on I-44 east and bump our way down the cement road toward St. Louis. Pass by a little town of Cuba, now we’re been to Paris, Rome and Cuba on this trip. Stop at 3:15 PM for a pit stop and a cold drink, walk around a bit to stretch our legs and then back on the road again. Pick up the I-270 beltway south around St. Louis which is blacktop and a nice break from the bumpy cement of I-44. That doesn't last long though as I-270 soon turns into I-255 which is back to bumpy cement. Driving up the east side of town, we can see the St. Louis Arch off in the distance. We cross the Mississippi River and enter Illinois where we get onto I-64 east which is a fairly smooth road. Not much scenery out here on the interstate as everything is just flat farmland as far as you can see but we hope to make some miles today and then spend our time in Virginia and West Virginia sightseeing. Stop at Mt. Vernon for gas, get 30.2 gallons at $1.13 and clean a zillion bugs off the windshield. Get a couple of Arizona brand green teas with ginseng hoping that maybe the caffeine from the tea and the ginseng just might help to keep us awake although we are doing great considering we only had 4 hours sleep last night. It is now 6:00 PM and 74 degrees out as we get back onto I-64 east. The road surface keeps alternating between bumpy cement and smooth blacktop but the traffic is really light making for nice driving. Cross over the state line into Indiana and made a stop at a rest area and visitor center. Although nobody is there it is well stocked with literature and maps and the rest rooms are very clean. Get off at exit 25B and go 1.5 miles to check out the Weather Rock Campground but find it to be 100 yards from the interstate and lots of traffic noise so we pass this one by. It is 7:45 PM as Elaine goes back to the campground directory and finds two campgrounds in the Hoosier National Forest near St. Croix about an hour away. Since we’ve entered Indiana the road has been a smooth blacktop surface and easy driving. At 8:00 PM we start to get some lightening off in the distance that really lights up the night sky and gets closer as we drive eastward into the storm. We get off at exit #79 and drive one and a half miles south on route #37 to the entrance of the Hoosier National Forest Recreational Area. Nobody is here at 8:45 PM so we drive into the North Face of Lake Cellina campground and pull into the first level site that we come to. Just get inside the camper when the rain comes down so we'll settle up in the morning as for camping fees or whenever someone comes beating on our door during the night. Fix a quick dinner of sandwiches and hot tea then get ready for bed. It is now 10:00 PM. and being that we only slept 4 hours last night we should sleep really well tonight. We drove 359 miles of interstate today in about 7 hours.

Day #7 Friday 4-23-99 St. Croix IN. to Prestonsburg KY.
Wake up at 8:00 AM after a great night’s sleep, get our showers, have some fresh fruit and tea for breakfast then take a walk around the campground to check it out. This looks like a very nice clean park with 63 well laid out spacious sites. Some of the tent sites are walk ins which give them more privacy from the road. CampsiteThe site we're on has a nice level gravel driveway, a picnic table, fire pit and a metal pole to hang a lantern on. It is very quiet in here and has a nice mix of evergreen and deciduous trees on rolling hills. Fees are $4.50 for a site without electric and $9.50 with electric for Golden Access or Golden Age card holders. Sites are normally $9.00 for no electric. Stop to check out the bath house which has hot showers and run into the couple that is hosting this park, Alice and Paul. Today is their first full day in here and they will be here till September and get free full hook-ups plus a salary. They’ve been fulltiming six and a half years and live in a big motorhome. We talk with them for quite a while and they tell us of some of their adventures on the road. They say that they love fulltiming and would never give it up. There are no phone modem connections in the park but they can go to the guard’s gate at the park entrance after hours and hook up to the phone line there. The only site in the north face area with any hook-ups is the host’s site. The electric hook-up sites are on the south slope of the park. We pull out of the campground at 10:30 AM under partly sunny skies. At St. Croix there is a scenic route #62 that runs alongside the interstate so we decide to take it for awhile and see how it goes. There is a road just north of here called Wabbit Twax road on the map. Makes me again wonder where they get some of these names. Pass by the St. Croix post office that looks to be a 10 x 10 metal shed. My garden shed at home is bigger than that! Route #62 turns out to be a winding little 2 lane blacktop road that really gives you a feel for this part of the country. It's very scenic with flowering trees, rocky formations and a small stream following the road. They call this route the “Lincoln Heritage Trail”. Looking out on the interstate from a hilltop we see traffic stopped completely and backed up for a few miles so maybe we made a wise choice coming this way. Pass by many little shacks, shanties and what looks to be a small one man sawmill operations. This is certainly better than driving on the interstate and there are many places where you can get back onto the interstate if you so desire, but I don’t know why anyone would want to. In the little town of Leavenworth there is a place called the Overlook Restaurant that has a beautiful view from a hilltop above the Ohio River. Looks like an ideal spot to eat a lunch or dinner and enjoy the view. Leavenworth looks to be a really nice small town. At 11:00 AM it is up to 78 already. Pass by the Wyandotte Caves State Recreational Area which the locals say is a real nice area. We follow the Blue River for a ways and pass by a canoe livery so they must float this stream. Stop to top off the gas tank at Corydon with 17.9 gallons at 99 cents. Looks like another nice small town that would be fun to check out if we had more time. The “Lincoln Heritage Trail” ends at Corydon but the road continues to be rather scenic beyond that as the land becomes rolling hills dotted with farms rather than mountainous. Just east of Edwardsville route #62 goes back onto I-64 about nine miles west of Louisville. We cross over the Ohio River into Kentucky and take I-64 straight through Louisville hoping traffic will not be bad around noontime. Lots of tricky lane changes going through town but the traffic isn’t all that bad. I-64 in Kentucky is alternating between cement and blacktop and not quite as smooth as it was in Indiana but not that bad. Pull into a rest stop and welcome center at mile post #29 and find it to be a well kept area with clean restrooms. The temperature by 1:15 PM has climbed up to a warm 80 degrees. At Frankfort we run into a traffic backup due to road construction, but just as we are about to pass the exit we notice a sign for an I-64 detour. Jump off the exit, drive north on route #127 for a ways but don’t see any more detour signs then just as we are about to turn around and fight the traffic on I-64, I notice a small detour sign. Turn onto #676 east which takes us to #60 south back to I-64. Pass by Lexington on I-64 at 1:50 PM and turn our clocks ahead one hour to 2:50 PM as we cross a time zone. Just east of Lexington I-75 splits off from I-64 and I-64 becomes a nice smooth blacktop roadway.Natural Bridge Get off of I-64 at exit #98 and head southeast on the Kentucky Mountain Parkway, a 4 lane divided highway which goes through the Daniel Boone National Forest and shows to be a scenic route on the map. At milepost #19 the road begins to climb up into the mountains. This road is much more scenic than either the Bluegrass Parkway or the Western Kentucky Parkway as we are now in the mountains with many long range views out across the hillsides. Look for the exit for Natural Bridge State Park but somehow miss it and have to get off at the next exit and double back on route #15 and #715 north. This is a very scenic drive along a winding, twisting mountain road which just goes to prove that some of our most scenic drives can be found by mistake or maybe they aren’t mistakes after all but were given to us for a reason. Like I always say, we are never lost, sometimes we just take alternate routes. Exit #33, route #11 to Slade is where we should have gotten off the Mountain Parkway for Natural Bridge State Park. As we drive through Slade there are many little shops with all kinds of things for sale and signs everywhere advertising things to do. Looks like a typical little tourist trap sort of place but we’ll see. We pull into an area that says “trails to the bridge” and park in a parking lot alongside a nice scenic little mountain stream.  It is now 4:00 PM and the temperature is up to 82 as we grab a late lunch consisting of a sandwich, an apple and a cold drink. Some people are leaving as we finish our lunch so we ask them how far is it to the bridge. They give us a map of the area with all the trails on it that says the shortest trail to the bridge is three quarters of a mile each way. We debate over hiking up to the bridge as it's getting late in the day but decide to go for it because we can always camp here tonight if it gets too late as there are two campgrounds in this park. We take trail #1 which is the original trail up to the bridge and it turns out to be a rather steep climb. We both have to stop a few times on the way up to catch our breath but use the excuse that we are stopping for photos instead. Good thing I brought the camera along! Reach the bottom of the bridge then climb up a narrow little trail through a rock crevice to the top. No room here for any wide bodies!

View from the top of the Natural BridgeThe view from atop the bridge is well worth the hike to the top. We take a few photos then just enjoy the view for quite a while. Decide to take trail #2 called The Balancing Rock Trail back down. This trail has many, many steps but is also very scenic. The choice to take trail #1 up and trail #2 down worked well as had we done it the other way around, the steps would have been a real killer. Either way it is a rough hike and we are tired by the time we reach the truck. This is a very scenic park with about 20 miles of hiking trails, a natural bridge, many rocky cliffs and a mountain stream and is well worth a visit. Now to find a campground for this evening as it is 6:50 PM. We top off the gas tank with 14 gallons at $1.06 in Slade then get back onto the Mountain Parkway heading southeast. Elaine finds a campground in Jenny Wiley State Park just outside the town of Prestonsburg which is 65 miles or just over one hour away. At mile #43 the parkway goes from a 4 lane divided highway down to a good 2 lane blacktop road but becomes more winding and twisting.
View from the top of the Natural BridgeThe parkway ends at Salyersville so we pick up route #460 east to #114 east where we see our first sign for Jenny Wiley State Park 23 miles away. Following the signs to the park, we enter the park on route #302 where we pass a boat marina with many very large houseboats and get our first view of Dewey Lake. There are lots of very scenic pull off picnic areas along the lake shore as route #302 follows the shoreline for a scenic five mile drive to the Pines Camping Area which turns out to be not on the lakefront. The utilities are shared in this camping area which makes for some of them being quite a distance from your camper. Many of the sites are not very level but the sites are rather large with some being pull through. We find a fairly level pull through site with water, electric, picnic table and fire ring for $14. Hook up to the utilities, fix some dinner then look over the literature on this area which includes the story of Jenny Wiley for whom the park is named. She was an early white settler who was captured by the Indians and endured many years of hardships with the Indians before she was able to escape back to her own people. Elaine falls asleep as I am reading her the bedtime story of Jenny Wiley so I turn out the lights at 11:15 PM and go to sleep. We drove 275 miles today and hiked about three or four miles.

Day #8 Saturday 4-24-99 Prestonsburg KY. to Sherando, VA.
Wake up at 6:00 AM and turn on the heater to take the chill off the camper as it is 50° outside. We get showered, dressed and decide to go out for breakfast this morning. Spend a half hour talking with the campground hosts. They have been fulltiming for 5-6 years now and have been hosting this campground for the last three summers. Their site has full hook-ups including a phone line and they seem like nice friendly people who may possibly let you use their phone line for a quick modem connection. We dump the holding tanks and head down the road, following route #302 north along the shore of Lake Dewey which is a very scenic drive. There are numerous pullovers along the lakeshore available for picnics or just enjoying a view of this beautiful lake. There are many boat ramps that allow access to this 18.5 mile long lake which has 52 miles of shoreline. Take route #302 to #3051 to #3 north and start looking for a place to grab some breakfast as it is now 8:00 AM. This southeast corner of Kentucky has been the most scenic part of the state in my opinion but then I'm partial to the mountains. The roadways are really clean in Kentucky but that may be in part to their “$500 fine for littering” signs that are posted all along the roads. Route #3 is a nice smooth 4 lane blacktop road. We turn onto route #645 south toward Kermit, WV about 10 miles away. The closer we get to the West Virginia state line, the more cars we notice in people’s front yards. I think people in West Virginia use old cars as lawn ornaments. Pass by a small diner called the Country Kitchen that has lots of cars out front and that is always a good sign. These cars have wheels on them and are not up on blocks so I know they are not just lawn ornaments. Turn around and try to find a place to park but there isn’t any room available in their tiny parking lot for the camper so I just drive on hoping to find someplace else real soon. Route #645 turns into #40 east which is a mountainous winding 2 lane road with no shoulders. Pass a small wooden structure that looks to be a shelter for kids to get out of the weather while waiting on the school bus. Inside of it were numerous empty beer bottles stacked along the wall but I guess the kids need something to do while waiting on the school bus. Pass through the small town of Beauty, Kentucky which is anything but beautiful. Lots of run down little shacks on both sides of the road and one mobile home with the big letters “KKK” spray painted on the end of it. Drive through Warfield then cross over a bridge into the town of Kermit, West Virginia. Pick up route #52 south which is a fairly smooth blacktop but winding two lane mountainous road. Get onto route #119 north which is a very scenic 4 lane divided highway ablaze with redbud and dogwood trees. It is 9:30 AM and we are still looking for someplace to eat breakfast so we get off at the Logan exit and drive into town. After taking a scenic tour through the town due to some detours we finally find our way to a Shoney’s restaurant. We order the breakfast bar @ $5.49 along with some hot tea and orange juice. Warning! Don’t ever order the large orange juice. I got a glass that looks to be 16 ounces and tastes like concentrate. I order a glass of water to mix with the juice till it is drinkable which gives me about a quart of OJ. After drinking half of it I still leave a full glass behind. Head back to route #119 north which cuts right through some mountain tops and makes for a scenic drive. At 10:30 AM the temperature is still only 50° but the sun is trying to peek out through the clouds. Pass by a sign for “Big Ugly Creek Road” which is another interesting name. Just past Danville we pick up route #3 east towards the town of Racine. This is a winding scenic little 2 lane road that climbs up a mountain and down the other side through a series of switchbacks. We reach route #94 and head north up over another mountain. Springtime is a great time to travel as all the azalea, wisteria, redbud and dogwoods are in full bloom. 
House painted redbud color?Pass by an interesting house that is painted two tone redbud and matches the trees in their yard. Follow route #94 through some small towns till we reach I-64 east. Get on at exit #89 and get off at exit #85 which is more than enough for us on this b-b-bumpy cement interstate. We cross over the Kanawha River and pick up scenic route #60 east. This route comes highly recommended by a camping friend, Carl from New Jersey. The road follows the Kanawha River through numerous small towns including the town of London where there is a dam and a set of locks for the barges and boats traveling the river. Many coal barges travel on this river.
A small park by the RiverNow we have visited Paris, Rome, Cuba and London on this trip and never left the country.  Stop at Glen Ferris where there appears to be a power generating station and a small but scenic waterfall. Take the opportunity to grab a cold drink and stretch our legs here at this little park which has a picnic area and a boat ramp. Leave Kanawha Falls Park and continue east on route #60. Pass by the Glen Ferris Inn and restaurant overlooking the falls. Our next stop is in the town of Gauley Bridge at the visitor center to pick up some literature on the surrounding area.
New River valleyThere is an old bus that was made into a fishing cabin many years ago and sits out on a rock in the river. This was done way before the river became a scenic waterway and they have allowed it to remain there. It is now 1:00 PM, 64 degrees and sunny out. Leaving Gauley Bridge the road climbs up into the mountains and winds it's way up and down through numerous switchbacks. Route #60 through this area is called the “The Midland Trail”. Stop off at Hawk’s Nest State Park and enjoy the view of Hawk’s Nest Lake in the New River gorge far below. Stop for 26.8 gallons of fuel at $1.13 and pick up $20.02 worth of groceries.

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