Saturday, 27 February 2010
February 27 Day 20 Friday San Diego to Cardiff by the Sea
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We spent the morning at Cabrillo National Monument on Point Loma. This is a long peninsula that protects the naval base in San Diego. Cabrillo was the first European Spanish explorer to discover California in the 1500s. It was great place to watch the surf from the high cliffs. At 12:02 the Chilean tsunami was scheduled to arrive and the beach road was shut down just in case.  It was a non-event with one wave about the same as the next. There is a very handsome restored light house in the park that is well worth the visit. Then we drove north along the coast through the high end towns of La Jolla and Del Mar. We must have passed through 100 stop streets or lights. It was slow going but much more fun than the Interstate that our GPS tried to take us on. We had to fight the GPS all the way.  We stopped at the San Elijo State Park at Cardiff by the Sea and got one of two remaining campsites. Things were tight because about 50 sites were shut down for maintenance. This park is right beside the ocean on top of a high bluff (see photo). This is the first night we haven't had power. Tomorrow we are scheduled to visit with two friends that live near here.

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Posted on 02/27/2010 6:30 PM by Bob Duthie
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Friday, 26 February 2010
February 26 Day 19 Friday Yuma, AZ to San Diego, CA
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We are just two miles east of the Pacific Ocean at the 40 year old "Campland on the Bay", that's Mission Bay. We crossed the Colorado River in Yuma and followed the All American Canal that irrigates a vast area of the Salton Sink, formerly a desert. At Ocotillo we left Interstate 8 and followed Historic Old US 80 almost to San Diego. US 80 was completed in 1927 and ran coast to coast from Savannah GA to San Diego. It was the route "that would never be snowbound".  Near Yuma and again along US 80 there is a black line that runs across the desert. Finally, we figured it out. It is the US-Mexico fence to reduce the number of illegal immigrants that cross the border. It's not a solid fence but has gaps so wildlife can pass through (see photo). Tomorrow we have the day off and will tour the area.

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Posted on 02/26/2010 10:37 PM by Bob Duthie
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Thursday, 25 February 2010
February 25 Day 18 Thursday Tucson, AZ to Yuma, AZ
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We got away early and decided to visit National RV Central beside I-10 to try out their automated RV wash. It can handle up to 65 ft units and washes the top, bottom and all four sides. It did an amazing job. The wheel covers have never looked so good.  The manager said he wanted to test something so we got the $95 wash for $35. He told me that 80% of the water is recycled and they only do RVs. There was a repair facility at the same location, so I decided to get them to look at the problem we are having with the power steps that have a safety feature that makes the steps retract if the engine is running and the doors are closed. The problem is the steps were not retracting. I got a real education from the mechanic, Denny, on trouble shooting this kind of problem. After $196 the problem turned out to be a faulty cable assembly. He bypassed the cable and everything is working again. I'll replace the assembly when I can get a new part. The assembly is supposed to protect the step computer if there is a voltage spike. We finally left Tucson at 1:00PM and got to Yuma at 6:00PM. We are in Riverfront Park, which must be one of the oldest RV Parks in Yuma. It is decorated with old cars and gas station stuff (see photo of the laundry). There are a total of 170 RV parks in Yuma covering vast areas and occupied by retirees. These folks know where to go as this is the warmest place yet at 78 degrees.

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Posted on 02/25/2010 10:35 PM by Bob Duthie
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Wednesday, 24 February 2010
February 24 Day 17 Wednesday Tucson, AZ
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This was shopping day, but started with attendance at the Tucson Rotary Club. The Tucson Chief of Police was the speaker. He talked about the drop in crime all over the US, which is a good thing of course, but also helps in the cost cutting made necessary by the recession. After that meeting I had another meeting in Nashville via teleconference. Then it was off to Costco, Lowes, and American Antiques. No one needs to see a photo of a Costco so today's photo is from yesterday at Old Tucson Studios and shows the lawyer's office with its interesting door and window. Tomorrow we leave for Yuma.

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Posted on 02/24/2010 10:49 PM by Bob Duthie
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Tuesday, 23 February 2010
February 23 Day 16 Tuesday Tucson, AZ
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We arrived at the 1939 Old Tucson Studios at the 10:00AM opening time. We were soon on a guided tour with a guide that seemed to know every movie ever made at the studio and was on a first name basis with John Wayne, who was one of the owners in the studio. Over 300 films have been made here including A Star is Born (1976), Cannon Ball Run (1984) and Tombstone (1993). After the tour we attended Miss Kitty's Can-Can Review, followed by a gun fight. I filmed the gun fight but it went on so long I had to quit and missed the gunslinger falling off the roof. This is a very interesting place and the staff tries hard to please. We had lunch at Big Jake's BBQ and had some of the best bbq and ribs I have ever tasted. Mavis and I split a huge plate that cost just $13.50.  Our next stop was Saguaro National Park. The saguaro cactus is the supreme symbol of the American Southwest according to the park's brochure. The visitor center shows an excellent narrated slide show on a large screen. At the end the screen rises, the curtains open and you look out at a vast saguaro forest. We hiked part way up Apache Peak and took today's photo that looks out over Tucson.

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Posted on 02/23/2010 6:31 PM by Bob Duthie
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Monday, 22 February 2010
February 22 Day 15 Monday Deming, NM to Tucson, AZ
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It seems like there are thousands of signs advertising "The Thing? What Is It?" for a hundred miles in all directions from Willcox, AZ. This was great advertising for years. How could you resist the pleas from your kids to stop, pay a buck, and see "The Thing?". Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your point of view, the Internet has made it possible to find the answer without having to stop. Mavis Googled it this morning and learned more than she wanted to know. I'll leave it up to the reader to Google it yourself so we won't spoil the mystery if you want to see it in person. Today was the day for rain and snow. The big sky was spectacular leaving Deming with broken clouds. We got lots of rain and arrived at noon at Gilbert Ray County Park, near Tucson beside the Saguaro National Park. This one of the best campsites in the country.  It has mountain views and tall cactus all around our site. We'll stay here for 3 nights, visit Old Tucson Studios, go shopping, wash the salt off the View and take it easy.

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Posted on 02/22/2010 4:54 PM by Bob Duthie
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Sunday, 21 February 2010
February 21 Day 14 Sunday Carlsbad, NM to Deming, NM
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The plan changed today. The Weather Channel was forecasting snow in Southwest New Mexico for Monday night. I decided to skip Alamagordo and try and get to Tucson on Monday, hopefully past the storm. We want to spend 2-3 nights there, so even if it does snow we'll be in a nice place at Gilbert Ray County Park. The Garmin GPS with its brand new update was picking strange routes when we left the Brantley Lake. It took us into a closed park road and we had to turn around and retrace several miles to get back to US 235. We headed north to Artesia which turned out to be the nicest looking town in NM so far. The Rotary Club there did a first with an electronic sign advertising the club and local businesses; a clever fund raiser and better than a wishing well. From Artesia I had to ignore the GPS so we could take US 82 west to Alamagordo.  US 82 is a 1932 road from Brunswick GA to Alamagordo. It is a beautiful road climbing slowly 5,270 ft over 91 miles to 8,650 ft at Cloudcroft. There was lots of snow at the ski resort at Cloudcroft. Then the road drops 4,315 ft over a 16 mile stretch to Alamagordo. Why I thought this would be an interesting stop is because I got that town mixed up with Ruidoso. We continued on to White Sands National Monument and revisited this beautiful place. It was partly cloudy and the clouds' shadows turned the sand different colors (see photo). Tonight we are staying at Deming, NM

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Posted on 02/21/2010 7:29 PM by Bob Duthie
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Saturday, 20 February 2010
February 20 Day 13 Saturday Hobbs, NM to Carlsbad, NM
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By 3:00AM I had the 2 GB file downloaded. After a few error messages I finally got the file transfer to the GPS started and I went back to bed. By morning I was in business and plotted the route to Carlsbad Caverns National Park. The Caverns should be on everyone's bucket list. As a child my family had a ViewMaster with 3D photos of the Cavern. However, those tiny 16mm photos don't do justice to the colossal size of the cave's rooms. We took the ranger guided Kings Palace tour and enjoyed the talk and walk. The photo was hand held using "natural light" and shows a large overhead drapery formation. While flash is permitted the results are flat. We finished the tour at 4:00pm and headed northeast  from the Guadalupe Mountains through Carlsbad to Brantley Lake State Park in the  Chihuahuan Desert.  Tomorrow we plan to visit Alamagordo, a town that looked interesting last year but we didn't tour.

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Posted on 02/20/2010 7:21 PM by Bob Duthie
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Friday, 19 February 2010
February 19 Day 12 Friday Albany, TX to Hobbs, NM
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We crossed some of the square Texas counties today. Each county is 30 miles on each side. The county seat is in the middle, so there is a town every 30 miles. Snyder was very grand including a courthouse square with a bronze very rare albino bison. The purpose of the sculpture is to honor the man, J. Wright Mooar, who shot more bison (about 22,000) than anyone else. Another town, Gail, was very poor, with nothing recognizable as even a courthouse. Route US 180 runs parallel 30 miles south of US380 the road we took last year. US 180 is a better road and the areas we passed through more devoted to agriculture than scrub brush. Hobbs is not very exciting but the RV Park is good. We celebrated Chinese New Year at the Mi Won restaurant beside the RV Park. Setting up tomorrows route to Carlsbad Caverns, I couldn't get the GPS to find Carlsbad. Then I remembered in the last update Garmin couldn't get all the maps into the StreetPilot so they split the maps into two or three parts. To show Newfoundland I had to eliminate the western USA. It seems Carlsbad is off the map. I forgot to bring the DVD that had the map files on it so I had to order the 2010 version and am now trying to download over 2GB of map files.

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Posted on 02/19/2010 8:39 PM by Bob Duthie
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Thursday, 18 February 2010
February 18 Day 11 Thursday Shreveport, LA to Albany, TX
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After a fabulous breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, and pancakes with John and Linda we left for the trip through Dallas & Fort Worth. Planning to stay just past Fort Worth, I decided to continue another 84 miles (350 total for the day) on US 180 to a dot on the map called Albany, TX. The population was 1,921 in 2000. It was the only town on the route showing an RV Park. This is an adventure for us as you never know what you are going to find. The Albany Motel & RV Park turned out well with full service sites. I asked at the front desk about restaurants and was told to head for the Fort Griffin General Merchandise Beehive Restaurant. It had been written up in a magazine I was told. Wow, what a great place. Mavis had an enormous hamburger and I had a great NY steak.  The dining room only held about 30 people and we had to wait 30 minutes to get in. It was well worth the wait, and when you have the motor home to wait in, it is not a problem. Another first today was the temperature which rose to 65. With the extra miles we put in today, we'll be in New Mexico tomorrow.

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Posted on 02/18/2010 10:31 PM by Bob Duthie
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Wednesday, 17 February 2010
February 17 Day 10 Wednesday Vicksburg, MS to Shreveport, LA
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We made good time covering the 160 miles from Vicksburg to Shreveport arriving at our friends John and Linda's home around 11:15AM. I had worked with John 10 years ago when he was with the local power company. We parked in the driveway and set up camp. After lunch we had a guided tour of Shreveport covering the new Louisiana Boardwalk outdoor shopping mall beside the river. Included in the mall is the biggest Bass Pro Shop ever with giant fish tanks, alligator pool, hanging sea plane and 30 ft Adirondack's fishing boats nailed to the walls. We then toured the old town including the theater where the Louisiana Hayride radio program was held. Bronze statues of Elvis Presley and James Burton grace the entrance. The highlight of the tour was a visit to Tubbs Hardware and Rentals Cajun Gifts shop. At this time of year the shop specializes in Marti Gras beads and King Cakes, etc.  Linda cooked a delicious shrimp etouffee which went well with Mavis white wine and the King Cake. Tomorrow we start a three day drive across Texas.

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Posted on 02/17/2010 10:45 PM by Bob Duthie
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Tuesday, 16 February 2010
February 16 Day 9 Tuesday Wilmer, AL to Vicksburg, MS
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With daylight, we could see what a neat place is the Escatawpa Hollow Campground at Wilmer. It is right beside the Escatawpa River and rents canoes. The property is treed with high pines that didn't block the satellite in our campsite. Highway 98 is in good shape and 4 lanes when you get to Mississippi. We arrived in Vicksburg about 1:00PM and got a site at the Ameristar RV Park beside the casino. Vicksburg is the site of one of the great battles of the Civil War where the South consistently won with heavy union losses but in the end were surrounded and unable to re-provision, so after several months, surrendered.  Most interesting to me was the naval battle. It seems that James Ead, the great engineer of the 19th century, came up with the idea of building 7 ironclad steam powered gun boats that could capture the Mississippi, Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers and cut off the supply chain to the South. Ead's gun boats were involved in the battle at Fort Donelson, TN which was the turning point in the war for Nashville. One of his boats, the Cairo, was sunk by a confederate torpedo (mine) triggered electrically by a soldier on the shore in December 1862. The Cairo sank on the Yazoo River near Vicksburg. The remains were raised in 1964 and opened to the public in the Vicksburg National Military Park in 1985.  The ship is protected by a huge canopy.

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Posted on 02/16/2010 5:23 PM by Bob Duthie
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Monday, 15 February 2010
February 15 Day 8 Monday Grayton Beach, FL to Wilmer, AL
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This morning the weather turned sour again with rain and cold. Rather than spend another day at Grayton I decided to head for our next stop 530 miles away in Shreveport, LA. Around noon, it cleared up and I was wishing we had stayed at Grayton Beach. Then it got worse. In Mobile we took US98 which goes to Jackson, MS. Without warning we found ourselves stopped dead in the middle of US98 in a monster traffic jam for a Marti Gras parade. There was nothing to do but shut down, watch the parade or read a book. It went on for 3 hours. Then it took 2 more hours to find a way around the parade and get out of town. Finally after dark we made it to the Escatawpa Hollow Campground about 20 miles from Mobile. The man that welcomed us said the parades last until 10:00PM at night. Tomorrow we will try to get to Vicksburg.

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Posted on 02/15/2010 8:45 PM by Bob Duthie
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Sunday, 14 February 2010
February 14 Day 7 Sunday Grayton Beach State Park, FL
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The sun came out and it warmed up to over 50 with no wind. Florida weather at last. We had a big group breakfast, then a meeting of the tech group where all the usual problems were discussed at great length. Transmission oil, engine heaters, and tires led the way. The most interesting story was replacing an intermittent tail/break light with an 1157 bulb. It didn't fix the problem, but when the coach was underway and the driver turned on the lights, the engine quit running. Apparently the engine computer detects a short circuit and shuts down. You have to buy replacement bulbs from Mercedes and not Autozone. Marla & Jeff invited us for a gourmet lunch in their brand new 1 week old 2010 Navion. It was fabulous with white wine, frittata, salad, and peanut buttered apple slices. Marla retired a week ago as a drug company rep and Jeff 2 years ago as a Florida A&M Professor of statistics.  They are out touring for the next 9 months. This afternoon we took turns on the bike riding to the beach (see photo). Tonight is the Olympics.

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Posted on 02/14/2010 8:39 PM by Bob Duthie
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Saturday, 13 February 2010
February 13 Day 6 Saturday Grayton Beach State Park, FL
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Last night we watched the Winter Olympics' opening ceremonies. It made me proud to be a Canadian. The sky was clear this morning for the first time in a week and it warmed up to 50 degrees. Breakfast was served outside this morning from 7-8; bacon eggs, biscuits, and pancakes. Lunch was a fish fry with pitch-in vegetables and deserts. Music was provided by the "Grass Cutters" a local folk group with 2 violins, base violin, guitar, mandolin, and banjo. The violin on the left was played by the son of one of the people in our group. They were really good. Then we walked around toured motor homes and told stories. I watched a movie of a group member's trip to Alaska projected on the white side of his unit. At 48 degrees it got pretty cold. He had some amazing shots of a brown grizzly catching salmon on stream where he was told there were no bears. Grizzlies just eat the skin and cheeks of the salmon and leave the rest to the eagles.

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Posted on 02/13/2010 7:34 PM by Bob Duthie
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Friday, 12 February 2010
February 12 Day 5 Friday Grayton Beach State Park, FL
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It started to rain at about 8:00PM last night and did not stop until 4:00pm today. It's too cold and wet to go outside, so we spent much of the day inside. It gave me a chance to read the e-Edition of USA Today which is announced every day in my email but ignored up until now. The e-Edition is surprisingly easy to read and looks just the print edition with all the graphics, ads, tables, etc.  On a 13.5" wide laptop screen each page displays in actual size but you do have to scroll vertically. If you don't want to read the news on the screen the program from Olive Software will use real voice to read the news aloud. While not as easy to read as the print version, the e-Edition is a lot better than packing up the motor home and driving in the rain to a paper box. This afternoon a number of us took  9 coaches to the Gravel Road Restaurant in Seagrove for a late lunch.  Our group more than half filled the place. This is an amazingly good and not very expensive restaurant. I had the kobe hamburger with fancy named mashed potatoes, Mavis had the scallops and gouda mushroom risotto. Tonight it will drop below freezing. The park manager came around and asked us leave all the outside water taps dripping.

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Posted on 02/12/2010 8:40 PM by Bob Duthie
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Thursday, 11 February 2010
February 11 Day 4 Thursday Grayton Beach State Park, FL
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It was another cold day with the high about 50 degrees. Tonight it is raining with snow expected when the temperature drops below freezing. I worked most of the morning and conducted a demonstration of one our products for a prospect via the internet at 1:00PM. One attendee was in Montana, the other in Nashville, and me at the beach. It all worked pretty well except it took about 6 seconds for screens to update. After the meeting, we drove the View to Eden Garden State Park to tour a restored 1897 home. The house was completely built of yellow heart pine by a wealthy lumber company owner near his sawmill. The huge trees are live oaks with lots of Spanish moss. This evening was the first event with finger food. It was cold in the open but 2 fires and a propane heater made a big difference.

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Posted on 02/11/2010 8:19 PM by Bob Duthie
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Wednesday, 10 February 2010
February 9. Day 2 Tuesday, Nashville,TN to Cropwell AL
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We had parked the View at the top of the driveway rather than at the pad in the back yard because of the snow that could make it difficult to get up the hill. We spent our first night aboard and were out on the road in the rain and slush at 7:15AM. We took I-24 to Murfreesboro and then US231. I had decided to take US 231 to Florida and stay off the interstates. It was a good decision as the route has some really scenic mountains, neat small towns, and little traffic. . Huntsville is the only major city on the route. The photo was taken in the mountains just south of Huntsville and the Tennessee River. Cropwell, AL is just south of I-20 and 30 miles east of Birmingham. The Lakeside Landing RV Park and Marina is large, inexpensive and has propane. Tomorrow we head for Grayton Beach State Park.
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Posted on 02/10/2010 2:07 AM by Bob Duthie
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Wednesday, 10 February 2010
February 10. Day 3 Wednesday Cropwell, AL to Grayton Beach State Park, FL
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The temperature was 24 degrees this morning, so we skipped adding water and dumping the holding tanks. The good news is nothing froze up and the engine started right up. Good friends of ours had their motor home's water tank freeze solid during a cold night. They had to take it into a heated garage and leave it for a half day to melt the ice. Grayton Beach State Park is beautiful with new fully serviced sites. We met up with a couple from Boca Raton that just got their Navion (like ours only newer) and learned all about the problems with the education system. Jeff has just returned from a Florida University. He says the kids now are being taught to pass the tests and little else. They graduate with no idea of how to think. The beach is a 15 minute walk around the pond in the picture and over the sand dunes. The herring bone clouds were warning it's going to get worse. We had the beach all to ourselves in the 50 degree weather with 10mph winds. The forecast is warning of snow here on Friday.
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Posted on 02/10/2010 8:29 PM by Bob Duthie
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Wednesday, 10 February 2010
Murray to Grayton Beach Map
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It's 590 miles from Murray, KY to Grayton Beach State Park.

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Posted on 02/10/2010 8:49 PM by Bob Duthie
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Tuesday, 9 February 2010
February 8 Day 1 Monday, Murray KY to Nashville
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Troubles began early two days before our trip even started. On Saturday the 6th our water heater at the house sprung a leak. Not wanting to fill the basement with water, we got the  plumbers to come Sunday and install anew one. We left home at 7:15am Monday, driving the car up to Kenlake Marina in Kentucky to check on the Katy Leigh and get some stuff for the trip. It was cold at about 28 degrees at the boat. We got the stuff, and then discovered there was no battery power in the boat and worse 3" of water in the bilge. With no battery power the bilge pump wouldn't work. I changed the battery switch to the other battery, got power, and was able to pump out the bilge. Leaving a message for Rick, (our boat mechanic) we headed for Murray and Papa Smurf's storage unit. More trouble; the batteries would not start the View as it was so cold.  It was time to call for help. It took about 45 minutes on the phone with Coach-Net to grant approval to call a tow and get a jump start. It took about 10 minutes for the tow truck to show up. The View was parked nose in so the first attempt was with a portable jump unit. It barely turned the engine over once.   I was warned it would cost $45 extra to winch the View out of the garage so they could use the truck battery and jumper cables. The two men on the tow truck just pushed the View out with me at the wheel and in a couple of minutes it started. We got back to Nashville without incident and before it started to snow. Rick called to report the boat's charger had been switched off, so the battery had gone dead pumping out the bilge. The temperature had been as low as 10 degrees F which caused one of the sea strainers to leak a small trickle. He then recounted all the problems that other boats had suffered, with one boat sinking to the bottom. Other boats had solid ice in their bilge freezing the pumps. When the termperature rose the ice remained in the outlook hoses so the pumps couldn't pump the water out. Those boaters that don't believe in winterizing will change their mind next winter.

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Posted on 02/09/2010 10:17 PM by Bob Duthie
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