Spur of the Moment Camping at Trace State Park

After our last outing to Tombigbee State Park, we sort of assumed that the weather and our work schedules would prohibit us from taking Lizzy out for another getaway until our big trip in April. But last Tuesday we checked the weather forecast for the weekend and found that it actually looked decent, so we decided to make a run for it.

We intended to camp at Tombigbee again, but it was actually booked up for the weekend. Since we needed to be somewhere fairly close to home in case I got a last-minute work assignment, I checked availability at the next-closest state park, which is Trace State Park near Pontotoc, and found that they had plenty of sites available. We booked site #7 for three nights.

We had only been to this park once before, just driving through it last summer to check it out. I remembered thinking that it looked like a great place to camp, very wooded and green with nice bathrooms and showers, and full hookups at most sites. The park is known for the large lake on the property, Old Natchez Trace Lake, which usually draws a lot of folks for fishing and water sports. However, the lake was completely drained last year in order to make repairs on the dam, and it’s still empty. I’m pretty sure that’s the reason there were so many sites available for camping on a beautiful weekend.

Trace State Park, Deer Run Loop Site #7, was our home last weekend.

We arrived around 5:00 P.M. on Thursday afternoon and stayed until about 1:00 P.M. on Sunday. We got a few sprinkles on Friday evening, but mostly it was just overcast. It was pretty windy on Friday and Saturday, and it seemed to be worse where we were parked, as the wind was coming out of the south across the empty lake bed right into the rear of our rig. It was too windy to use the awning, and we didn’t feel comfortable lighting a campfire even though the temperatures were cool enough in the evening that it would have felt marvelous.

We had a very enjoyable time while we were there. I did some hiking on the Baker Trail, a 3-mile loop that winds through the forest and alongside the lake bed. As nice as it is now in late March, I’m sure it’s much more beautiful when the trees are leafed out in the summer, and even more so in the fall when the leaves are at their peak of color.

Here’s a little video that I put together showing our campsite and some of the hiking trail:

So now it’s time to really start planning our big trip in April. We already made reservations for our first stop, but I’ll hold off on revealing those details until we get on the road. So stay tuned, April will be EPIC (at least for us!).

Tombigbee Trip Report, Tire Pressure & More Decluttering

In my last post, we were preparing to head out on our first RV weekend of the year after a cold, wet winter. And we’re so glad we took advantage of the temporary break in the weather because it’s been messy and wet ever since we got back, at least on the weekends.

We drove to Tombigbee State Park on Thursday afternoon, March 1 and stayed in campsite #12 for three nights. This site has full hookups (electric, water and sewer) and is located on the back side of the loop, just across from the bathhouse.

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When we pulled the RV up on the leveling blocks, I noticed that the rear outside tire on the passenger side was low. This was concerning because we also found that the valve stem appeared to be bent to the side down inside the wheel itself, so there was no way to check the pressure with a gauge or to air it up.

When we put the RV up on the leveling blocks, we had only put the blocks under the outside tires on the rear, so we went back and put blocks under the inner tires as well. This appeared to help the low tire since it was no longer bearing all the weight by itself. But the whole time we were there, I was concerned about the low tire pressure (more on that later).

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Other than that problem, the rest of the weekend was perfect. Technically I was still on the clock for work on Friday, but since I work from home most of the time, I was able to bring my laptop and Blackberry with me, using my AT&T hotspot for data connectivity, and therefore enjoy my Friday workday from the campsite. As far as my job duties go, there was no difference between what I did in the RV and what I would have done sitting at my desk in my home office.

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Andy and I enjoyed a hike on Friday at lunchtime, but I couldn’t talk him into hiking with me on Saturday and Sunday, so I hiked alone. He said he was still sore from Friday! The weather was sunny and pleasant the entire time we were there with highs in the upper 60’s and low 70’s. We had campfires on two nights, and used both the charcoal grill and the Instant Pot for dinner preparation. Of course we had our usual Sunday morning cinnamon rolls from the convection oven–those are a MUST!

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Our two cats, Maggie and Molly did very well on this trip. We crated them for the short drive to the park (less than 20 minutes), and once we arrived and let them out of the crates, they settled right in with no complaints. I think they actually enjoy RV life since they get to be with us so much more in the tight quarters than they do at home.

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It did get down to the low 30’s at night. We had decided that since we were going to have shore power for this trip that we would use a small electric space heater rather than running the propane furnace. Why spend our own money when we’ve already paid for electricity, right? So I ordered the Sunpollo 1500W Ceramic Space Heater from Amazon, and it performed beautifully. We ran it on low during the night just to keep the chill off, and when I got up in the morning to make coffee I turned it on high to warm things up a bit more. We’re very pleased with this product so far!

I was so sad for the weekend to come to an end, but we have plenty to do to continue with our preparations for full-timing later this year.

But first of all, we had to resolve the issue with the low tire. Since this was a brand new tire that was just put on the RV last fall, Andy drove Lizzy back to the tire store where they were installed. The good news was that the valve stem is actually designed to bend, and it was no problem to straighten it out where we can access it for monitoring the pressure and airing up the tire. The not-so-good things we found out were (1) we still can’t reach the valve stems on the inside tires, and (2) our little air compressor was not powerful enough to fill up these big truck tires.

So, it’s back to Amazon. Andy did some online research and then ordered the Viair 40047 400P-RV Automatic Portable Compressor Kit.  It comes with a nice case and all the necessary attachments to run it from the rig battery (house or engine).

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He was able to use the new compressor to get all our tires to the appropriate PSI, and now we don’t have to worry about being far away from a gas station when our tires need air. The old compressor will go into our next garage sale.

I’m still working on decluttering and downsizing, completing several projects over the last couple of weeks:

  • I finished scanning and digitizing all of my/our paper photos, saving them to JPG files which I’ve uploaded to my Dropbox account. Andy still needs to go through his old photo albums and decide what he wants to do with them.
  • Speaking of Dropbox, I went ahead and paid for a 1TB storage space since this will be our Cloud repository for documents and photos that we want to keep and have access to while on the road.
  • I bought three Case Logic hardshell DVD binders to store most of our DVD collection. Each case holds 70 discs, so there’s room for 210. We had already picked out which DVDs we planned to keep, so I transferred each of them from their individual cases into the new binders. I also printed out labels for each of the slots in the binder, as well as a list of all the titles in each binder so we can easily see which DVDs are stored where.

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It doesn’t look like we’ll have another chance to take Lizzy out before we do our two-week trip in April. Right now our plans are to spend two weeks meandering around southern Mississippi and Alabama, as well as northern Florida. However, we’re going to wait until the week before we leave to make any concrete plans, as we want to see what the weather looks like. If it seems like it will be too warm and muggy on the coast, we may possibly go north into Tennessee or even the Ozarks of Arkansas instead.

That pretty much brings you up to date with our RV life for the moment, at least the details that I can share publicly. When the time is right, we’ll talk a little more about our long-range plans, so stay tuned!