Thursday, December 22, 2011

More shots from Congaree swamp

We found these additional shots and thought they were spectacular. What a wonderful place near Charlotte.


Having not had an adventure lately & thus having itchy feet (partly acquired in US Navy on a Destroyer with yucky showers), it was time to strike out & see what mischief we could get in. Close at hand was Congaree Swam National Monument in central SC, a 24,180 acre federal park established in 2003.
Entering the park you're "..walking in the footprints of the Wateree and Congaree Indians, Francis "Swampfox" Marion.." & scores of SC bootleggers. Being winter, there was nobody there but us two geezers. This was nice. We find this to be the case often when hiking in most any forest even during peak season. You get a mile or so away from the parking lot & you're isolated. We relish the quiet & find ourselves walking for long periods of time without saying anything; simply wool-gathering, absorbing the flora, fauna and good air.
Anyhow, Congaree isn't technically a swamp, because it doesn't contain standing water throughout most of the year, but is actually a floodplain forest that floods +- 10 times a year. Its most striking features are: it consists of the largest contiguous tract of old-growth bottomland hardwoods in the US & the tallest canopy of deciduous trees on the globe; it's a national natural landmark, a globally important bird area, and an international biosphere reserve. Its giant loblolly pines and hardwoods rise to a canopy higher than the Amazon rain forest(165'+); majestic old bald cypresses measure 25+' in circumference; the country's tallest water hickory at 143'; scores of giant tupelos & beech; Spanish moss hanging all-about & bio-diversity galore, with river otters, barred owls, giant red-headed woodpeckers & insects.
I'd recommend late spring for a visit. This should be after foliage is out & before the onslaught of bothersome insects. Congaree is about 2 hours from Charlotte & a pretty easy drive.
En route home we spotted a huge Starbucks billboard and took an off ramp. Mistake...... There was no Starbucks to be found. We did spot the SC School of Medicine, which had a third world sort of aura. Further derision might have to do with the fact that the only reason Congaree's majestic trees remain is its lack of sufficient waterways to haul out the timber once cut. Give a man a chainsaw (even an ax) and his predatory nature always comes to the fore. "My bad", with the cynicism. It's in my genes, especially when it comes to environmental degradation.
Congaree is a good trip if you groove on nature.
The next EGG ON THE RUN trek will launch mid-January. We're gonna zig-zag down to Homosassa, Fla., the Everglades & neighboring environs. We'll take our canoe & maybe get to wear some short pants & T-shirts, as I'm already getting tired of winter.
Dick 'n Ann

Monday, November 21, 2011

EPI-EGG-OLOGUE----EGG On The Run Sits For A Spell

Thirty days of Running (3,930 miles) & we're taking a break back at the crib.
From Charlotte through Kentucky, Ohio, & to Michigan. Then down through Indiana, Tennessee, Mississippi & west to Dallas, then back through Mississippi, the northern part of Georgia & South Carolina, then home.
We met scores of people on all sorts of journeys, from all sorts of socio-economic groups and ages, and each and every one of them was exceedingly pleasant. Not one surly person in the lot. This may be the single most memorable aspect of the trek. It renewed my faith humanity; in America. There was the black fellow sleeping on a picnic table under a blue tarp--his skinny dog nearby; the elderly couple--both crippled, in the 40 ft. RV, towing a new full-size Jeep Cherokee, who "were doing things for others." This consisted of traveling around America, building Christian book stores.
There were the two homeless women living in tents (3 mos. so far), with a half-dozen cats & a yapping mutt. There was the couple from Colorado (up 8k ft.) who had been out for 4 mos. rambling around. "Guess with winter setting in we won't be able to get back up the mountains, home. Maybe we'll find a good spot in southern New Mexico." They had this huge, handsome, standard poodle/golden retriever mix & they'd ripped out half of their trailer's furnishings to make room for sofa for Ralph, the dog.
There was Cut-And-Shoot, Tex., an incorporated little town; Dogtown, Alabama; The White Elephant Hotel--an ornate, gorgeous, Victorian structure, perched on top of Alabama's highest ridge +-2,800 ft. After exiting DeSota State Pk. at dawn & 25 degrees, we rounded a switchback and there, rising out of the frosty morning mist was The White Elephant. Who built this wonderful hotel? What a sense of humor! It's like the Greenbriar in West Virginia, but extremely isolated in the Alabama woods.
Enough.......enough. Tks for reading this chatter. Rambling around America & living in a trailer is like land sailing. It wears you out. Exhilaration keeps you buzzing along and "up", while at the same time, you're stretched thin, physically & emotionally, as well. Like sailing, after a couple of wks you get in a "groove" & though still stretched thin, you feel like you could go forever, or at least a good long time. The upshot of all this is that when you return home you feel disoriented, & a part of you yearns to still be rambling.
EGG On The Run will continue....
Dick Randall & Ann Frankln

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Stayed over a day at Hernando Desoto State Pk. After twister angst, getting lost, etc., time to chill....literally and figuratively, as it's to be 28 degrees tonight. Tore off through the woods in search of fire wood this AM. Good bit around & I found a dead pine to saw up & this coupled with wood we bought in Coppell, Tex., gave us plenty. Waited for the wind to die a bit then lit her off about 5 PM, Ain't nothing like a fire. Ann made Ho-Bo Stew & slaw & we stood around the fire and shoveled it in.
Great fire; good grub; cold night with lots of stars.
Took a couple of short hikes this AM. I was feeling a bit puny with the allergies acting up, but feel super now.
Tomorrow we're striking out for Rome, Ga., bypassing Atlanta to the north & use country roads for a change. The Interstates have a purpose,but you pay the price in angst/boredom, etc.
Will let you know how country Georgia is. We've found country Alabama to be pretty groovy......

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Twisters & Hernando Had It Easier

Left CLARKO St. Pk. just north of Meridian this AM after waiting a bit at the ranger's office for twister clouds & twister alert to pass. I-59 okay except for bad stretch through Birmingham. Hundreds of trucks. What are they hauling?? I thought there was a recession. Maybe reefer....
Long haul today & we're whipped. An hour or so from our turn off for the campground, radio news said there had been a twister in Montgomery, while at the same time the clouds overhead looked particularly ominous. Figured I'd find protection around behind a concrete structure for the EGG & us,so I bailed off the Interstate and low and behold there was a Super Wal-Mart....we had something to hide behind AND we could do some shopping for tonight's dinner. Furthermore, I've always figured I'd like to be in Wal-Mart for the rapture. I noticed folks rubbernecking the weather through the plate glass windows & a half dozen or so truckers had pulled in the parking lot to scope out the funky clouds. We got a pre-baked hen and salad stuff and split. The weather had improved & all was well until we tried to find Desoto St. Pk. First, we drove through Ft. Payne, which was a pain, except for a mom & pop BBQ with the smell wafting in the air. I'm gonna eat there tomorrow if we can find the dang place. Next came Dogtown (for real crossroads spot with a sign and store). On and on we went following the Google magic bubble.. Turned left and headed up a mountain. First time I've had to use 4th gear. Switchback after switchback. On and on & on, maybe 20 miles, only to happen upon a sign saying Desoto St. Pk. 20 miles!!!! I wanted to murder somebody, but how does one murder Google....IT Vapor, for Christ's sake!!
Like I say, Hernando DeSoto had it easier. I need to ask the park clowns where they came up with Hernando's handle.
Anyhow, we call the DeSota ranger & he chuckles & asks us why we went the long way? Now I've got somebody to murder. My attitude improves.
Ranger clown says, "Turn around & go back to Dogville; turn right and drive maybe 15 miles; can't miss it."
It's getting dark & I'm hungry & ticked off. What options did we have being this far from civilization?
The upshot is we made it; the bathroom & shower are new and sparkling clean. Supper was great; the heater is purring; it's toasty & I'm tired of typing. I kept my cool with the ranger as the problem was actually Google. Like MapQuest, Google's directions are off a good bit of them.
Oh well..... All's well.......

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

CLARKO STATE CAMPGROUND---South of Meridian, Miss.

Fished in pristine lake this AM. Used a Roostertail & a BB Popper--my two best lures, then I tried a hook, bobber & a GULP on a hook. Nothing....
Found out from the park ranger that you were supposed to have a $10 daily license or face a $25 fine. Oh know what they say about fools, drunks & naive GULP fisher-
persons. In short, I didn't catch nothing, but I didn't get busted.
We stayed over a day at CLARKO to get some rest, enjoy the setting & chill. A good idea.
We're blasting off tomorrow & taking a northerly route west of Atlanta, through the mountains & back toward Charlotte from the west. I-85/Atlanta simply seems like a whimsy let-down epilogue to EGG ON THE RUN.
It should be exciting to weave around, up and down the Appalachians & approach home base from the west.
Shopped at Sunshine Discount Grocery in Quitman, Mississippi today. Very steep prices & the only grocery game in town. The granny-age "bagboy" was curious about our whereabouts, as we looked odd and from out of town.
I said, "We're just passing through."
With a woebegone look she said, "And I have to live here."
A little cracking on EBT (Black Foodstamp) recipients by granny & our encounter ended.
Another highpoint today was the 20 mile trip to an adjacent non-dry county.
The clerk in the "wet" convenience store said, "Yeah....the bootleggers over there can get anything they wants 'cause folks don't want to drive all this way."

Monday, November 14, 2011

From Dallas to Carencro

Jim did a magnificent job on his abode.


Rendezvoused with an old artist pal who lives in Carencro, & spent the night in the EGG in his front yard. He directed us to exit # 6, but it was exit #4, where we were to meet him at McDonalds. I roared in and ran over a tall, ca-thump, but apparently did no damage to the EGG. I'm always thinking of Humpty Dumpty's fate. Anyhow.....we had cheap steaks, red potatoes and salad, then talked and laughed. Jimbo, the pal, is an exceedingly talented, artist, (painting, sculpture, ) & and a mind-blowing furniture maker, And......he's broke, but anticipating a windfall, like us all.
Oh yeah, about the gambling in Biloxi to pay for the EGG, the trip, etc.: It's off. Ann keeps quoting he odds & Jimbo had finite mate with game theory in college, so it was two against one & blackjack in Biloxi got nixed. I'll just have to do it on my own; maybe with a pal in Florida who chronically plays the lottery. I'm reminded of two guys I overheard in a convenience store; One was buying...maybe a dozen lottery tickets while the other one was giving him a hard time.
The buying dude very indignantly says, "You can't win if you don't play.
"You can't win if you DO play," replied the other dude, then slapped his buddy on the back.
Everybody at the counter laughed.

Jimbo's pad is tiny and there is no door on his bathroom, which is just off the kitchen. Hence, Ann & I split early this AM as graciously as possible, and after a couple of cups of java. Went a good distance today, beginning in Carencro, La., and ending up at a wonderful state park close to Meridian, Miss. North on I-59 through Miss. was like a dream. Smooth road surface, neat, close cropped grass & slightly rolling hills covered mostly with pines, with what looked like pristine lakes & streams along the way.
The state park is called Clarkco State Pk. There are only a handful of campers...a few jumbo trailers & a couple of tent camping gals adjacent to us who've been her for 2 mos. Very friendly, with 5 cats. I want to get to know them a see what their story is. They say since they're handicapped the fee is $300 per mo. Cheap, but not that cheap is you're down and out. We'll see...

We have water, electric power for the EGG and we're very close to the bathroom, which has a door. Who could ask for more?
The lake looks like a good fishing hole. I'll ck it out tomorrow AM. Maybe we'll stay a couple of days....
We have no alcohol & it's a dry county with scads of churches. Don't anticipate "Jones-in", but we'll drink a lot of Sleepytime Tea to ward off any possibility.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Here we have the Texas Prison Museum. We didn't go, but did wonder about the State's pride; what prompted them to erect this high-end museum structure with an old wooden electric chair as their logo; how, given the Texas tendency to "fry" so many many of whom are apparently Gov. George Bush, Rick Perry, etc., could even brag about their execution records. Oh well...onward into the fog
When we arrived at our campsite a bunch of people, 12 bicycles, cooking stoves, tons of food, etc., were squatting at site # 140..our site. Reluctantly, they packed up, only to find out that keys to one auto where with one of the fellows & the spouse didn't know where he was. We had a couple of glasses of wine and "chilled" for a hr. or so, when he showed & they exited.
I backed into the slanted parking space at #140 & we mulled over whether to disconnect the EGG & try to level her up,but with the help of consumed vino decided not to bother. Instead, we flipped the ends of the bed so we'd be sleeping uphill, not down.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Ben Franklin

Relaxing in Dallas


We're in Dallas at the moment, visiting Ann's son. We're leaving Sun for Lafayette, La to visit a pal and leave the EGG so we can drive the pickup to New Orleans. Then it's back to Lafayette to recover the EGG, then we'll split for I-85 & the trip north to Charlotte. En route to I-85 I'd like to stop in Biloxi, Miss., play some poker & win enough to pay for the EGG & the trip. Rick, my son, who was down in New Orleans playing music, stopped at a cheesy casino in Biloxie....arrived at 8AM and won $500 real quick. So I'm thinking I've got some sort of genetic good vibes there and can't lose. I'll stake Ann; she counts cards; made an "A" in calculus; so how can we go wrong?
As for the trip since the last blog entry, it's all a surreal dream. Hence, I'll note some memorable tidbits that are likely out of chronological order, but noteworthy (if you're a bit twisted), so here goes:
At the campground close to Memphis we met Rev. Vernon "Rusty" Hammer, his three buzzed head little boys & his father, who were all camping in a Coleman pop-up. Nice folks from Kansas.
Rusty said, "I'm here to do a funeral. Saved a lady over the phone; she up and died; her sister pleaded with me to bury her, so here I am."
There was a lull in the conversation.
I said to the little ones, "Wow...y'all are going to have lots to talk about during show and tell when you get back to school."
The oldest little one said, "We don't have show and tell. We're home schooled by daddy so there won't be anything to show and tell 'cause he's been right here."
The most prosperous enterprise between the campground & Memphis was: YO MONEY TAX SERVICE--BOOKKEEPING TO.
Struck out for Greenville Mississippi St. Campground/open all year, only to find it closed. Stress turning turning around, as we were up on a levee, in tight quarters. The EGG has a short tongue, making it tough to back up.
Crossed Mississippi & went to Chicot, Ark. & their state park. Lovely spot; huge lake; lots of coots & redheaded woodpeckers. Tried fishing, as the lake was famous for its bass & catfish. Have a jar of GULPS-"BetterThan A Worm" fake bate, but we weren't getting any action. A little gal showed up with a cane pole and a can of bate.
"Y'all doing any good?"
"Them GULPS ain't no good." With that she pulled in a nice size catfish."
"I don't skin um. Grampa does. Has to use his pliers & it's pretty gross. You want to use some of my red wigglers. I got a gracious plenty."
"Thanks a lot, but we were just wrapping it up so we could have some lunch."
"You want a sandwich?"
"Naw.....just ate."

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Actually in Arkansas

Sometimes I wonder where I am.

Somewhere in Alabama

On the great river road, heading to New Orleans. On on oxbow of the
Mississippi. Still not warm enough to wear shorts.

Friday, November 4, 2011


    Have been out of the IT loop of late....more specifically, there ain't been no electronic vibes allowing us to transmit on our Blog...only Ann's 4G Apple phone, a device making her the smartest human on planet earth.
    A few noteworthy happenings:
    Visited Mammoth Cave National Park--390 miles of caves (thus far explored) and a mind boggling & sort of creepy experience.  Our ranger-led program came with a ranger who forgot his flashlight & resorted to the light on his cell phone.  He had lots of savvy & a great personality so the flashlight bit didn't matter much.  There are some photos taken underground.  However, it was mega creepy when he turned out his light.  MCNP, being a national park, has no electrical hookups, so we had to fire up the Honda generator, which proves to be louder than expected,   There was a psycho dude who appeared off his meds who ranted and screamed at his two terrified sons.  He was driving a Ford Focus, had 4 dogs & the 7 of them slept in a pup tent.  We figured he was on the "lamb" AND  off his meds.  We feel so sorry for the two boys.  Finally, he stuffed everything in the Focus and tore off.  All-in-all Mammoth Cave was a giant experience.
    In Memphis at the moment.  Just visited the Civil Rights Museum, a very moving experience.  The museum is built around the motel where M.L. King was shot.  The museum experience moved you to tears. America's civil rights struggle personified  "Mans' Inhumanity To Man."  Yesterday, we toured Graceland, the epicenter of garish interior design.  Note photos.  However, it was the home of Elvis.  The most amazing display was the hundreds of gold records he was after room, floor to ceilings.  Here you have a simple guy, blessed with good looks, rhythm, soul and a dynamic manager.
     We're camping in a remote city campground surrounded by abject economic blight, but have met several very cool fellow campers.  We're learning that this is the way you chart your course:  .talk to others, brew a pot of coffee and blast off.  We're thinking about following the "river road" along the Mississippi & heading south.  It still ain't warm enough    Our site has great showers, free ice and cheap washers and dryers.  Just like the Ritz.


Mammoth cave

Not real fond of caves. 392 miles of underground caves. Whew

Memphis, Tennessee

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Hauling South Into The Fog

   Corn, corn & more corn.  Mich., Ohio & Indiana are covered with dried corn stalks as far as the eye can see.  It seems that corn for ethanol makes for big bucks if you are a farmer.   Don't tell the 50% of the world that is starving we're growing the stuff to fuel our SUV's.
   Stayed in an Indiana State Park last night--our first night in the EGG.  The Park was very hard to find. We drove miles and miles and miles through the corn, but thanks to Ann's expert navigation and Google's magic dot we found it about dusk.  The temp. dropped to about 28 degrees...enough to freeze H20, but our heater worked like a champ.  Our paramount goal today was to scoot South asap and get to warmer temps. On the map we located another state park near Mammoth Cave, Kentucky & drove roughly 30 miles on narrow, twisting, hilly roads through pretty Amish farm country only to learn that the park was closed.  Tried to turn around in a fellow's drive way.  He stormed out and said his wife would shoot me if I hit any of the bushes....said a fellow in a "Greyhound Bus" tried to do the same and he had to run him off.  I'm guessing it was one of those mammoth RV's that are as big as a bus.  Anyhow, the turn around wasn't going too well so the fellow told me to quit backing and drive across his yard.
   Tomorrow we'll check out Mammoth Cave and scope out their camping sites.  It's a National Park but has no electrical hookups so we'll have to fire up the new Honda generator & see how this system works.  One major bit of learning:  Do comprehensive research before striking out toward a state park.  So far, we've found them to be poorly marked & the one last night was in disrepair.  With the bleak financial condition most states are in it's no wonder. 
   The overarching realization during our adventure to date is that we're grooving on the EGG.  It's all we expected and more.  But it's the driving from point A to point B that busts your chops.    Today we came from Peru, Indiana to Bowling Green, Kentucky.  This is approx. 300 miles, then you add the 30 plus miles we drove on the wild goose chase, we're looking at roughly 330-350 miles.  It was getting dark.  The truck, the EGG, Ann and I needed a break so we checked into a Comfort Inn.
   Tomorrow's gonna be a golden day........

Friday, October 28, 2011 always, having fun ain't fun all the time. We're BEAT, but still managing to laugh a good bit. Drifted off last PM and missed the last of the Series....maybe the best 4 or 5 innings in baseball history. More beat today but sipping coffee to get jacked up for game 7. Did jumping jacks in the motel pool & par-boiled in the jacuzzi (had to ask Ann how to spell this) & feeling pretty chipper. Oh yeah...about the EGG: Picked it up this AM from the genius dude who designed and builds them. He also designs, builds and flies speedy airplanes. He looks a lot like the fellow with the hair in Back To The Future. Great guy & super goober. Gave us a 2 hr. orientation. Ann paid attention; I was spaced out & in la-la land over the whole adventure. Half way through the orientation the office lady said one of our checks was no good because the cretin at our bank failed to sign it. Lots of shucking and jiving/confusion over the wire transfer number at the local Mich. bank. ( They're loading banks with teenager clerks 'cause they come cheaper than tenured bankers they've laid off so as not to pay their pensions.) all eventually sorted itself out & we got the title. The upshot is we've got the EGG, we like her a lot & we're blasting off tomorrow on secondary roads & heading south for more temperate degrees. Must get my head right about hauling a trailer. This is simplified by the fact that I can't see if anyone is behind me or not, so why worry about something you can't see, huh? Plan to spend night one in Indiana. Hope to see Dan Quale Check out the goofy photos.

More later........

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Heading thru Ohio

A long day. Around Cincinnati and
Dayton showed how bad roads are in this area. We DO need some infrastructure spending. Miles of corn fields and a single lonely house. Welcome to the tundra. We had a great dinner in Bowling Green. Reminded me of Chapel Hill.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Day 1: En route to Grand Rpds., MI (Charlotte/London, Kentucky)

3:00 AM:  Awoke with a start & began reflecting on our rude awakening the other day AFTER sending in our deposit for the EGGCAMPER.  We knew it was 17' long & 88" wide, but had neglected to measure just how big this was.  I expanded my tape measure 17' from the truck's bumper & almost swooned.  Ann watched from the deck. 
"Holy Cow!  This dern thing is huge!"  I shouted
"But it looked tiny and so cute in the photos," she replied

Aghast, we finally laughed & concluded that this was a classic example of putting the cart before the horse, or in this case, the chicken before the EGG.
So off we blasted today, reaching London, Kentucky, Harlan Co., home of woebegone coal mining.  Weather due to be funky tomorrow, but today was marvelous & and drive through the NC/Tenn mountains mind boggling.  Truck is crammed with stuff, making me wish for a trailer to haul the the goods to the trailer.