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Published by klump04, 2018-10-10 19:28:29

Just Around The Bend Episode II Touring the Continent Crossing America

Episode II




Touring the Continent:

Crossing America




Episode II


Episode II


Episode II

Touring the Continent:
Crossing America:

© Copyright

© 2013 Richard E. Zimmerman and Arlene M.

All Rights Reserved

No part of this publication may be reproduced or
transmitted in any form or by any means,
mechanical or electronic, including photocopying
and recording, or y any information storage and
retrieval system, without the express permission
in writing from the authors or publisher.

Cover and Cover Photograph by the author

All photographs Copyright
© 2013 Richard E. Zimmerman and Arlene M.

May 2013


Episode II


Arlene and I have now written and composed
several books in a short period of time. It’s been
great fun, but most of all the very same
knowledgeable, and generous folks have given
their time and helped prepare each one. Without
them I’m sure we wouldn’t have completed them.

George Mindling has continued to offer his
welcomed suggestions. We visited him this
winter and he once again took us to the Writers
Association meeting. They read excerpts from
their latest works and then the members make
comments. It is always positive. Arlene and I,
just by listening, get a huge boost from these
Our daughter Alyx and Son-in-law Jim Movich
have again prepared our book’s cover. It’s a long
distance internet arrangement that constantly
tries our expertise and proves their patience.

Paul Klump again has reviewed our work made
many suggestions and created an E-book as well
as a Printable PDF version for us.
Thanks to all of you for your help and support.


Episode II


Rattling the Cage

Dreaming about Traveling
European Excursion
North America
The Alaskan Plan

Camping Philosophies

Wright Lake, Appalacholaca National Forest

Campground Rating List
Golden Age Passport


Baton Rouge Library and Football
Lake Charles Louisiana Great Depression 1932
Lake Charles Louisiana Today 1997


Houston, Texas with Alyx
Austin, Texas with Joe

Fly fishing lessons
The Double ‘R’ Bar ‘Z’

Episode II



Lathrop State Park

Back roads to Boulder
Boulder and Sally
Viewing the Eastern Front

U.S. Geologic Survey Center,
Atmospheric Research Center

Rocky Mountain National Park


Speeding on Unlimited Roads

Sink Canyon State Park
Plains to Mountains, Snow
Continental Divide


Episode II



Grand Tetons

100 miles though Yellowstone
Madison River Campground, Cousins?
Old Faithful and the Inn

Animals on the roads
Mountains and Campsites

Thermal Pools, and Geysers


Beyond the Park, the rugged drive

What a town: Musem, Cowboys, Restaurants
William F. Cody
World Class

Western guns from the East
Western Art, and Sculptures

What’s a Flat Tire?


Episode II



Lolo Pass and Nes Perce Legacy

Smoke Jumpers Center
Interstate Highway to Idaho
Rules of the Road


Blanchard isn’t Bermuda

Cousin Ann
Submarine Testing Grounds

Banff, a Mountain Wonderland

Blue Green Lakes
Ice Fields and Braided Rivers
Cherry Jam to Dawson Creek


Southern States

Western States

Episode II




Things to Turn Off, Adjust, etc.
Packing List

Golden Age Passport


Episode II


Episode II


It had dawned on us that we could be alive and
possibly healthy for another 30 years. Thirty
years that if divided equally would be the next
third of our lives. Imagine, our first third until
we were 30. During which time we grew up,
went to school, began a career, married and
started a family. That itself might be enough,
but the next 30 years were ruckus, with divorces,
career challenges, adjusting life styles, the loss of
our mothers, fathers, a sister, and close relatives.
A pretty sober 30 years. And now to realize that
we could be alive for another 30 years. It would
probably be more like the first 30, yet who
knows. We’d say ‘Katy bolt the door’. Here we

So here we were Arlene and I at home in Florida
trying to decide what to do with the rest of our
lives. Now, that we are retired. Realizing that
our earlier ideas to get away from the hustle and
bustle of our work schedules and social
responsibilities. Vacations for us had been
getting away, traveling to some remote places
where no one could find us, where we could relax
and enjoy the quiet, and solitude. Now, we’ve
reversed our thinking. We’ll miss all that daily
grind and should plan a retirement around social
events and community activities that allow us to
be around people. Activities that we wanted to


Episode II

get away from while working, are the very ones
we’ll want to participate in during our retirement.

For the several years before we retired this was
an on going discussion that led us toward the
events that we now pursue. As soon as the ink
was dry on my resignation we changed our
residency to Florida. Florida was easily available
to us and Connecticut’s taxes are high, we’re now
on a fixed income, and it’s an expensive part of
our country.
It’s only fair to say that Arlene realized that men,
in general, but specifically me had a different
attitude and experience toward retirement than
women. She realized, from watching others that
I should have a decompression period by myself
after my last day. A period of time where she
would step away leaving me some time and space
by myself to adjust, and get use to the new
She continued to work for another three months
while I allegedly decompressed, where I talked to
fewer people, and no longer answered every
phone call. Where I became a reasonable and
honorable retiree and husband. This she thought
would be a good beginning and continue our 20
year love story into retirement.

For years we had been coming to Florida to visit
my mother. It was a good break from the winter
weather. Mom lived in a small 2 bedroom 2 bath
home in North Port that her sister Ester left her.


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Aunt Ester had bought it way back in the 1960’s.
It was nicely built, concrete block, with a small
fenced backyard a purple Jacaranda, and a bushy
thorny Bougainbillea. Outside the fence was a
canal with only a little water, but separating the
house from the neighbors across the way. It had
one outstanding feature; Ester had painted the
house PINK. The two of them Mom and Ester,
acted like kids over it, they loved it. After my
mother inherited it she kept the color.

Several years ago she deeded it to us with a
single stipulation. Leave it PINK. So as soon as
we retired we headed to Florida. That’s where
we’re living now. We like the home’s 1960’s
Harvest Gold, and Rose bathrooms, and the
Avocado Green kitchen appliances. But, we’ve
upgraded it a little by building a PINK screen to
shade the car port, adding a new fresh PINK
coating outside, and painting the shudders white,
as the dark brown was morbid. Everything inside
was painted a light gray, matching our new
Burber carpet. (Burber was a mistake from the
beginning as it’s hard on your feet and above all it
unravels. Never again will we have Burber.)

During these intervening years before our
retirement, we had made plans to travel a bit.
Traveling had taken on a different meaning for
us, as we were no longer defined by certain
responsibilities like working. Time was no longer


Episode II

a constraint, as we didn’t need to leave on Friday
afternoon and return by Monday morning, bound
by the 9 to 5 grind. So we thought it would be
for longer periods than overnight and weekends.
It might even be less expensive, but dreaming
about where, is much more fun, and is an easier
issue to tackle.

For instance, if one of us wanted to go one place
and the other somewhere else we’d just go to
both. Just add them both to the plan. Our plans
then, for no particular reason; happened to be
restricted to North America; Canada, and the
Continental US.
Years before I’d been to most of the states, and
several Canadian provinces, but Arlene hadn’t
traveled that much. In the last decade our travels
were pretty much along the east coast. Mostly we
sailed our Cal 29 sloop between the Chesapeake


Episode II

Bay and Block Island Sound, watched a couple of
America’s Cup races, and took weekends around
Long Island Sound. For a real vacation get away
we’d go to our timeshare in Bermuda.

It was a great place, but our annual fee had risen
over $1,000. Luckily we were able to give it back
to the association at no cost. We also sold our
Cal 29 sloop, and gave up our mooring in Old
Saybrook, Connecticut. So these two weights
were gone, and we only had two homes,
Connecticut and Florida.
Connecticut worked out nicely, as Dean and
Laura were saving for their own home. We
encouraged them to move into our place for a
while to save on expenses. To put it toward their
future. That worked out for both of us and we
were now free to move along with our travel
We started by choosing different parts of the
country. That was easy, we split North America
into sections of the US and Canada. There was
the South, Southeast, Southwest, the West,
Northwest, and the East, Mid-Atlantic and
Northeast. We drew circles around these areas
on a map which made them easier to
conceptualize. These sections were divided into
large cities; New Orleans, Austin, Santa Fe,
Tucson, San Diego, Las Vegas, Denver, St Louis,
Boston, New York and Washington. In Canada,


Episode II

Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal
and Quebec, and the Maritime.

This looked pretty good. We could take a grand
tour circling across the south to San Diego, north
to Vancouver and east across Canada to Boston
then south through New York and Washington
back home to Florida. The Mid-west was the only
weak area.
Following this plan we could be gone for
months, even years, or maybe we’d make several
different trips out of it. Being from New
England we knew how beautiful the fall season
was, yet we thought we’d like to be in Florida
then. So maybe we’d need to take more than one
trip, maybe lots of trips.

Our plans for the rest of our lives seemed to be
coming together. Traveling would be across the
country, from time to time, and in between we’d
enjoy the beautiful sunshine and happy, outgoing
folks in Florida. Surely there was a bit more to do
before these plans would be brought together,
but they looked good.

Unexpectedly, though our lives took a turn. We
had an opportunity to tour Europe. I’d studied
in Italy, a long time ago, and the chance to return
was an easy call for me. Anyone who has been
there would clearly want to return. Arlene was
eager also. Our North American travels would
just have to wait for a while, until we returned .


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Our European tour was for 6-weeks. It started in
England crossed the Channel to France, around
it’s border to Holland, Germany, Austria,
Switzerland, Italy, Spain, and Portugal. Then
back to France and England. This was just like
our travel plans for North America acquainting
us with Europe. We might return for a second
trip, long enough to stay for a year or so, on our
own. We could rent a place for two or three
months and thereby stay and live in several

We took the European tour. There were 52
people on our bus, the last of the fall season, and
to our surprise 50 of them were from Australia.
We had a great time in Europe, touring on the
bus loaded with Australians. If your life long
plans are sidelined by such an experience don’t
feel too bad as it’s a splendid way to go. And if
by chance it’s with Australians; go for it. They
are wonderful; great accents, fun loving, and
considerate people.

By the time we got back both of us were worn
out and needed to take a little time to wind down,
relax and recover. Traveling is pretty strenuous.
During that time before deciding, or having
another brainstorm, like Europe, we relaxed most
of the winter. But things were changing, as we
recovered and by the middle of February it was
apparent that we’d have to step on it if we were
going to Alaska in the summer.


Episode II

That is if we were going to drive. This is not to
confuse anyone, our trip to Europe and planning
had really loosened us up and now there were
‘no-rules’. We were not only free of many of our
properties, but also our inhibitions. We had, in
such a short time converted, transferred and
translated our lives into a different world.

We now added new places to North America,
Alaska, Australia, Hawaii or back to Europe. We
felt free as birds.
The idea of Alaska was a bit farfetched as it
would be a trip to the primitive end of our
continent, to the final frontier. A tour like
Europe or a cruise along the Northwestern coast,
which we knew to be spectacular would be nice,
yet they’re expensive and only a couple of weeks
long. If we went maybe we could take the
summer and drive. I was excited about the idea,
and thought Arlene might be also. If we drove
we’d probably camp. That was a delicate subject
so here’s how I approached it.
Arlene and I have family histories of auto
camping, Arlene with her family and me with my
parents and family. Both of us gave it up in the
‘60’s for different reasons. She because it was
too much work, never a vacation, while for me
there were too many campers. Campgrounds
were cluttered, and my family was too busy, so it
had lost its appeal. Both of us had given it up.


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However, we did have some relatively new or
unused camping equipment. So if we decided to
drive to Alaska we could camp along the way.
This was our inventory:

A Coleman Stove. Last time we used it
was during a black out in
A couple of orange Air Mattresses. They
Were pretty neat, as deflated they
Could be rolled into a small ball.

Two black Sleeping Bags. Silky, zero
Bags that zipped together.
A 6-person Tent. One of those quick
setup with a vestibule.

Several Tarps, extra aluminum tent
Poles, a folding shovel, a gas
Lantern and a Port-a-Poti.
How we acquired these things is beyond me. All
in all a pretty good start for not camping for 35
years. We had a few experiences with the
equipment. The stove cooked several meals for
us in a snowstorm, a Nor’easter in Connecticut,
although it was more of a romantic interlude than
a crisis.

We tried to set up our tent in the living room
once. It had fiberglass poles, of different sizes,
that are assembled into long poles that fit
through sleeves thereby making it quick to
assemble. The Wind River Tent people


Episode II

professed, set up time to be under 15 minutes for
a novice and less for a real camper. An hour and
half later we were still assembling it. This could
be a problem as the weather in the house was
dry, comfortable, and relaxed. Relaxed for the
first half hour anyway. Of course we’d need to
practice a bit, sharpening our camping skills,
before going off into the wilds.

We’d also need to get a few other things. They
would be minor. Among them were odorless
soap, and deodorant to stay clean, yet not draw
attention to any wild animals. A battery driven
TV, and No-See-Um screening. The latter
would be wonderful to cover every window and
opening in the Van, including the moon roof.
Judging from the alleged size of mosquitoes, we’d
need the screening.

Arlene is a little more conservative than me. She
likes to think things through before, ‘going off
half cocked’. In most cases it serves her well.
Imagine how often we’ve bought something on
the spur of the moment instead of waiting a
Let’s not say this idea hit me like a thunderbolt,
but it surly was one that would require winning
her over to it. You might see that it could be an
uphill battle. Oh, I’d forgotten the other time we
raised the tent. It was on our deck, outside the
bedroom in Connecticut. It was only a test run,
but when she woke for a bathroom run, she


Episode II

never returned. I woke after a while and missed
her, only to find that she was sound asleep in our
bed. Her explanation the next morning was
simple. ‘Why would I ever sleep there on that
dumb thing when my warm toasty bed was right

I couldn’t sway her with romantic notions like
the beautiful night sky, and the sparkling stars, or
the joy of being in the wilderness, the new
frontier, making it on our own. Soft soap just
wouldn’t win her heart. It would have to be
something concrete, something she could get her
hands around.
‘Darling I began’ I know how you see camping
as a miserable rain drenched experience where
you have to do all the cooking, washing and
cleaning. Where the wild animals keep you up all
night and you don’t have any time to yourself,
during the day, no time to relax. I know that you
had to take care of your family pets that they
needed to be walked and cuddled. How they
feared the horrible midnight thunderstorms. I
know how terrible camping can be and how it
can mark a person for life.
It could be like that if you let it, but I want to
suggest something else, an alternative. Something
less dramatic. An experience that has a sunny
side to it.

You see dear, you’ve never been camping with
me. Why, you could ask my children about all


Episode II

the extra effort I put into camp how I do dishes,
cook lobsters, flip pancakes, wash dishes, build
campfires, and tell the best bed time stories. I’m
truly a camping partners dream. You’ll see if you
only give it a chance. And if it doesn’t work, if
it’s not everything I say it is, well we’ll return
home immediately.

I wasn’t sure how that went over. She’d heard
stories like that before, but it was the end of the
discussion. Several days later, I’d moved ahead
and we were in Home Depot buying some No-
See-Um screen for the van. I took her silence as
a positive indication. It was.
So we’re going to Alaska.

On a budget of $75.00 a day including gas, camp,
entertainment, and meals. I’d forgotten to
mention it to her, but I figured we’d be gone less
than 6 months.

Times were good, and like the 1926 song by
Henderson and Dixon ‘Bye Bye Black Bird, I’m
ready to go.

‘Pack up all my care and woe
Here I go Singing low

bye bye black bird

Where some body waits for me,
Sugar’s sweet, so is she

Bye bye black bird.’


Episode II



Packing is my specialty. Everything will have to
go into our Mercury, either inside or in the roof
top carrier. Arlene began with the meals, they
would either be canned or packaged, as our
refrigeration was limited to an ice chest. Our
pots, pans, and utensils all nested together inside
one large pot.


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The roof top carrier went on easily, but I had to
take it off to back the van out of the carport as it
was too high with it on. I then replaced and
repacked it. Because we still had Connecticut
license tags, I covered most of them with a wide
band. That sounds weird, but I didn’t want to
drive all over the country advertising our
northeastern, liberal, political bent, or otherwise.
I figured people all over the country just didn’t
get it.

Early in the morning on May 7, 1997 we backed
out of the drive and were on our way. We started
with the Odometer a 62,161 miles. There are 2
mileage readings on the Mercury, Odometer #1
and #2. Number #1 would be used from fill up
to fill up to keep track of our mileage or to check
how far we’ve traveled from point to point.
Number #2 would be used to keep track of the


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over all trip, which should be around 10,000

The car drives nicely with all the stuff in the back
and the roof top carrier filled. After I packed the
Van I looked over everything to be sure we
needed it all. It’s about 2 feet deep from our
seats to the back. We took out the other seats to
make room for everything. We’re packed with
food, files, books & accounts, air mattresses,
sleeping bags, water, port-a-poti, and camera.
Starting around 6 a.m. was nice. The mist and
fog rose up along the roadside ditches and the
fields. The trees stood like sentries on a quiet
outpost with Spanish Moss hanging down. It’s a
time of morning that I’ve always liked and in
Florida it’s special, only a little bit scary and

Arlene is driving which I’m really glad about. She
hasn’t driven much in the last several months,
and not at all with the Mercury since we came
down from Connecticut in August.

Despite what she may say she’s doing really well.
Outside of Tampa the traffic had picked up, and
there were a lot of ‘Snow Birds’ returning to the
mid-west, Ohio, Michigan, and Canada. It’s a
straight shot up Interstate 75 from here to
Detroit and Toronto.

The western coast of Florida is different from the
eastern, because it’s populated with Interstate 75
people instead of I 95. My theory comes from all

Episode II

the folks around us. They use their hands, build
and construct things, and have been doing it all
their lives. My life, like so many people along
the East Coast have pushed pencils around, so to
speak. I’m an administrator, consultant type
person, not a ‘hands-on’ type. And that’s the
difference the along West Coast of Florida as it’s
filled with ‘hands-on’ retirees. That has its
advantages, for instance our plumber says to
Arlene ‘Never ever let him near that sink, call me

We’ll get off the interstate soon, near Ocala and
take a leisurely Route 27 and US 98 over to
Apalachicola. In the short distance we’ve come
Arlene has counted 7 distressed autos, including
one with a fire engine tending to it, another with
the luggage pilled high on the apron and the
spare along side. We sure hope this isn’t a sign
for our travels. Maybe we’re just too excited
about our lift off and reacting to everything. We
still have 20 miles before we get off the

I had given some thought to our mileage,
expecting 24 mpg, but we’re not getting it. In
Chiefland we switched to 93 octane to see if the
rumors were true, and we’d get better mileage.
By the time we got to the Blue Crab Festival in
Panacea we’d gotten 24 mpg. So much for the
high price fuel.


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Even though I’ve been raised on Chesapeake Bay
Crabs, the Blue Crab Festival was delightful.
Several rivers, the Ochlachkonne, the
Chattahoochee; which separates Alabama from
Georgia, and is the main source of water for
Atlanta, and others. The rivers broaden in the
low lands here, creating a large enriched sea
barrier for these crustaceans Their crabs and
gulf shrimp were great. It was a lot of fun and a
break from driving.

We’ve had been traveling along the Gulf Coast
shoreline, US Route 98 for a while, and planned
to continue all the way to Pensacola before
heading up to Interstate 10 and Lake Charles

St Joe’s, a lumber company, owns hundreds of
miles along the Florida panhandle. They plan to
become major developers, and in the middle of
this housing boom they have a plan to build
thousands of homes. We’ve heard they’ve gone
to Florida’s Legislature and asked them to move
US 98 further away from the shoreline. That way
they could build multi-million dollar estates on
the shore. That sounds like a good idea for them,
and as an inducement they would build an airport
for the political members near Tallahassee so
they could fly in and out easily.
We drove past the little town of Apalachicola. It
should be renowned for it’s contribution to
civilization, and the development of a New


Episode II

England playground for New York, and New
Jersey. This is where Air Conditioning was

Without that invention of Air Conditioning, and
of course, Bug Spray, there would be no Florida
sunshine, no leisurely retirement, no Indian River
fruit, and surely no cattle industry. Florida before
those inventions was a jungle beyond
We’ve read some historical accounts about
traveling in that jungle. It could have meant
you’d climb into the trees and travel like ‘Tarzan’
from tree to tree without ever touching the
swampy ground. Where the US Army chasing
the Seminole Indians years ago, gave up without
tracking them down into the Peninsula.

Why, Air Conditioning has even brought the
Mid-Westerns south to see what the good life
was all about.


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We turned into Apalachicola National Forest
and headed along a white sandy road to Wright
Lake. This would be our first stop, our first
camp. There was only the caretaker, and he
hadn’t seen anyone for three weeks. It was quiet,
with pines surrounding the camp. We were on a
bluff about 20 feet above a small pond which was
lined with cypress, oak and pine trees.
It would take a long time before we realized how
nice this camp was with its flat site, good water,
showers and toilets.

The Forest Service had just finished refurbishing
the campground. Each site had a pole, to hang a
light or something on, a new picnic table made of
3X lumber in the style I like, one piece not
separate benches. The camp pad was leveled,
filled with gravel and surrounded by 6X logs. The
good news for that type of setup is if your tent
stakes don’t work you can use nails in the lumber.

In the 1950’s I’d camped with my family at
Whirls End State Park in Pennsylvania, now
called World’s End. Campsites were wooden
platforms and you need nails for it. We had both
stakes and nails with us. The rest of the site had
two fire boxes, one for an evening fire, and
another for charcoal grilling. They dug a well
that services the entire campground, with each
site having their own water spigot.


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Apalachicola is a National Forest filled with
White Pines and other trees. The forest is logged
and I suppose these pines make good timber.
They are straight and at least 60 feet tall. Their
needles and cones are distinctive. The needles
are up to a foot long, and the pine cones are
huge. In the past we’ve seen people collect cones
for Christmas decorations, on fireplace mantels
or reefs but never so large as these. They were
10 to 12 inches long and 5 or 6 inches wide.

We think we should rate all our campgrounds
and keep a list of them. The rating system would
be from 1 to 5 where 5 was tops, the very best,
and 1 would be the pits, the very worst. Our
criteria included 4 elements. The camps basic
amenities, it’s cleanliness, the size of the site,
and the environmental scenery.


Episode II


Flush toilets, showers, water,
electricity, and a dump station.

Clean toilets, showers, and
campsites. Trash collection

Site Size:
A good size for a tent, picnic table,
fire pit and grill.

Safety and privacy.
Usually Private campgrounds
have very small sites and little

Environmental Scenery:
A natural setting with views, forests,
trails, that capture the local area’s

We’ll start by rating Wright Lake as a 5; the tops.
There was a lot to do and we began unpacking to
make space to sleep. Fortunately, it was nice
weather as we put most of our stuff on the picnic
table. This was a good time to reassess our gear
and how we’d use it. We have some long
extension poles that were supposed to hold the
tarp over the picnic table, but I wonder if there
will be any trees high enough in Alaska to put up
a tarp and use these poles. Alaska we expect will

Episode II

be mostly tundra with ancient trees only a few
feet high. Maybe we should send the poles back
home. We will also put our tent up, but only
when we stay in one place for 6 or 7 days, and
our summer clothes may never be worn again.
It’s supposed to reach the low 40’s tonight.
There were a few other things. We had enough
food to move an Army across the South.

Most everything was laid out on the picnic table
and we got the tarp over it and secured. It’s so
pretty here, a couple of cardinals are singing, it’s
cool and dry, we’ve had a light dinner and are
ready for the night. Our two orange air
mattresses are plump and overlap in the van a
little. Maybe we should let a little air out of them
to make the seamless. We’ll do that, I just hope
Arlene doesn’t fall in between, onto the hard van

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deck. Our sleeping bags are zipped together, she
has her pillows and flashlight. We’re ready for a
sound sleep. We were out like a light, and slept
until sunrise.

One of the most important steps any senior
camper could take was to buy a GOLDEN AGE
PASSPORT as soon as one of us turned 62 we
should go to the closest National Park and buy
It’s a discount pass to Federal Recreation Lands,
like our National Parks, Forest Service, Bureau of
Land Management, Corp of Engineers, and Fish
and wildlife Service. In some cases entrance fees
are free and camping may be discounted by 50%
off the going rate. It’s well worth the time to
look into the different Federal and State discount
services and passes.

While it’s still a little early for me to act on this
good deal, Arlene is just right for the pass. With
that in mind we headed for the Rangers Station
for Arlene’s special gift. She filled out the slip
paid her 10 bucks and received her lifelong
Golden Age Passport. We will celebrate having
the pass tonight.

In the meantime it’s time to do some exploration
and off we went into the forest, where we found
several ‘sink holes’. These are collapsed areas,


Episode II

that fall through to underlying aquifers and
sometimes are filled with water sometimes dry.
Each were about 300 feet or the size of a football
field in diameter and 50 to 100 feet deep.

We’re in the deep forest and our trail wasn’t
marked very well but we just kept traipsing along.
It’s easy going, mostly flat, and sandy. The pines
love this sand, which is like sugar, it’s so fine. It’s
not hard walking, but each step causes us to leave
a footprint. As long as we stay near the water we
get a glimpse of the trail. It’s not swampy, yet
the water just seems to be sitting there, evidently
the Cypress like it.


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We’ve come to a catwalk that goes across a little
stream, but ends nowhere. We can’t cross so we
turned back, but instead of following our path
decided to cut across the woods back to camp.

It was hot and Arlene started peeling off clothing.
I found that quite satisfying and just marvel at the
possibilities. Would she show the same
enthusiasm in every state and province? Maybe.


Episode II

It worked, we made it back to the sandy road and
into camp. There was something about the
landscape, here and throughout Florida that gives
us a feeling of safety. That we could explore and
hike without taking normal precautions. We
shouldn’t have done that as we were poorly
prepared. For any walk or hike, we must have
first aid, compass, map and survival gear. All
packed into a backpack, with some high energy
trail mix and bars.

The pond below our campsite actually had a
couple of gators, and on the trail we chased off a
Red tailed hawk that had just taken a squirrel
We waited around in hopes that it would return
for a picture, but it didn’t. There are supposed to
be endangered Red Cockaded Woodpeckers, an 8
½ inch black and white zebra backed bird here.

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We also were looking for a giant Pileated
Woodpecker. It’s the largest in the Woodpecker
family, is black with white stripes along it’s neck
and a brilliant red crown. It’s supposed to be 20
inches long. We didn’t see either of them.

On our first stop we’ve made a number of
changes and learned a bit about our journey. Still
there’s no solution to the mountains of stuff
we’re carrying. Hopefully it won’t rain, because if
it does we’ll be in big trouble. Maybe we’ll eat
our way through the food and leave other things
with Alyx in Houston.
Last night we were both so tired that we slept like
logs. Tonight we’ll adjust the inside of the
Mercury so both of us have an equal foundation.
Arlene said she slept in a hole. The air mattress
slipped out from under her and she fell through
to the van’s floor. We woke up around 2 a.m. to
go to the toilet, outside the stars were so bright
they shined through the trees and lit up the white
sand; we didn’t even use our flashlight.
We slept well again in the cool of the forest.
Both of us took a shower with our new,
Peppermint soap, which was supposed to protect
us from the wild animals. And then we packed
the Mercury in a world breaking time of 2½
hours, and off we went toward Mexico Beach.


Episode II

There’s an Air Force Base nearby, Tyndall, and
they’re training of jet pilots was in full swing.
Two F-15’s or F-22 Tom Cats just buzzed us,
and there go two more. Yesterday, in the Forest
we heard them fly over as we hiked around in the
shear solitary of our jungle state. That was a
weird feeling, everywhere we might go we would
be accessable to the air by military or commercial
planes. It seems they like the forests just as much
as we do.


Episode II


We breezed through the rest of Florida, the
honky-tonk area along the peninsula up to
Interstate 10, through Alabama to Mississippi and
the Desota National Forest. This camp, about 25
sites wasn’t nearly as nice as Wright Lake.
National Forests sites seem to have that
characteristic, some are exceptional some are not.
Many are without amenities, yet high on the
natural environment. This camp, Big Biloxi, was
rated a 3.

There was a camper there that had been in the
Army and stationed in Fairbanks, Alaska in 1949.
He had bought an Army surplus Jeep, K-rations,
and drove the highway. The road was rough,
mostly gravel, with cut, sharp stones, often as
large as a fist.

We were meeting lots of people that had been
there, another fellow had driven the highway in
the 50’s on a motorcycle. It must have been a
fearsome trip if the roads were gravel and soft

Hearing those stories and a couple of others, we
thought maybe we weren’t as prepared as we
could be. One fellow drove his pick-up with a
motorcycle tied to the front. He said the Taylor
Highway from Dawson City to Tok was all
gravel. I wondered if he’d had a flat and the

Episode II

answer was ‘yes’. ‘More than one, lost all 4 tires
at one point and had to ride the motorcycle 25
miles to get help’. However, he thought we’d
love the trip.

Near the camp was a lot filled with surplus
Russian Army trucks. They looked like our Army
trucks, olive green, camouflaged, big wheels,
square fenders and cab, and overall a bulky
vehicle. Some entrepreneur must have bought a
couple of ship loads of them and wanted to sell
them locally. He must have been disappointed at
the response as they had been sitting there for
several years. I suppose they break down and
can’t find spare parts. In any case no one was
buying them.

For all the grand things that the Deep South
represents this rather weird story seems to be
characteristic of the dichotomy that exists here.
Where really obtuse ideas are found beside each
other. I guess it comes from their heritage, and
insular background. How else could they be so
anti-Russian, yet think they could profit from
Russian goods?
We made a quick stop in Baton Rouge at LSU, to
visit their library to research a couple of stocks
on the Internet. The public libraries all over the
US usually have free internet service these days,
and the Western states are filled with internet
cafes which have really inexpensive access.


Episode II

We had visited New Orleans and LSU several
years ago, and went to a football game. It was an
introduction to Big Time College Football, where
thousands go to the game and millions tailgate.
Every home game had these unbelievable parties.

In the stadium were 100,000 screaming fans. We
were the only folks without purple shirts and
hats, and once the fans realized we were Yankees
we were harassed as being Yalies and pansies. It
was one super experience, and we were glad to be
back to visit this pretty campus whose roads were
lined with flowering Crape & Wax Myrtles and
their courtyards with Old Live Oaks dripping
Spanish moss. We strolled around the campus
for a while before getting back on the road.


Episode II

Outside of Baton Rouge Interstate 10 raises up
above the Bayou and for 20 miles we rode on an
elevated, cement highway. Bumpity, bump over
every cement section. It was amazing, and I wish
we knew more about it. Below us we could
always see trees and wet lands, occasionally there
were lakes, and often there was a canal between
the roadways.

We drove on mile after mile until reaching
Lafayette, Louisiana where we stopped for lunch
at a place called PreJeans. It was a a cool
restaurant with fresh seafood and a Louisiana
swamp atmosphere.


Episode II

Arlene ate like she was starved. She had cat fish
stuffed with shrimp and crab meat. Spicy corn in
a pastry and a cup of corn and crab bisque. She
drank plain old pineapple juice with it. I’d never
seen her drink pineapple juice before.

I also had a large meal, blue crab cakes with fried
eggplant, okra and dirty rice. We don’t know
what got into us, but we did have an appetite.
Maybe it was the monstrous stuffed alligator, 15
feet tall over looking our table that inspired us to
eat like it was our last supper. In any case we had
just eaten our entire daily allowance.
We left PreJeans sluggishly, filled to the gills,
climbing back into the van and onto the highway
for Lake Charles.

Lake Charles was a place we wanted to visit
because my mother and father had visited there
and written about it during their camping travels

Episode II

in 1932. We were interested in seeing what they
had to say during the Great Depression of the

I’m including excerpts from their book ‘THE
John U. and Margretta Zimmerman are their
impressions of Lake Charles from November 19
through November 25, 1932.

‘Saturday, Nov. 19.
Since leaving New Orleans, we passed thru a
country that had many towns and villages, and plenty of
water. The road ran alongside of, or crossed many bayous,
canals and lakes. Naturally, the land was level. The last
hill that we saw was east of Mobile. The sugar cane
planting area extended to Lafayette. Somewhat west of
this town there were huge piles of straw in the fields, like
those in our native section after the wheat has been
thrashed. We were satisfied, for a while, to call it wheat
straw, when it occurred to us that this grain does not grow
so far south. We mentioned all the various grains to each
other but the right one. Then asked. We were surprised
to learn that it was rice straw. Rice is the principal crop
in this area and extends well into eastern Texas. Decided
to stop at Lake Charles on account of our mail date. But
water was standing in pools all over this section from the
recent rains, hence it was impossible to find a dry spot for
the tent, Got a nice cabin for a week at three dollars.

Trip 125 miles.’


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‘Sunday, Nov. 20 to Friday, Nov. 25.

Lake Charles, the largest town in southwestern
Louisiana, is located about forty miles from the Gulf of
Mexico and thirty miles from the Texas line. It is a
shipping and shopping center, served by rail and boat.
And also the parish seat of Calcassieu Parish. Sea going
boats dock at Prien Lake on the west side of town. They
come from the Golf by way of a pass, a river and a lake.
Each of these three bodies of water has the name
At one end of Prien Lake were boat houses and a
number of small cottages, which made a very fresh water
resort for the townspeople. And what a place for a small
power boat, with all the lakes and bays connected to the

The first day at this stop was spent in acquainting
ourselves with the facilities of the camp and then using
them. We made every effort to keep ourselves, the car and
camp equipment as presentable as possible. The car was
very dirty due to being driven in the rain on shell surfaced
roads. So it got a bath, too. The metal frame of the tent
came in for one coat of green enamel. Other odds and ends
were done during the course of the week.

The business section of town was within a ten
minute walk form camp, where we went to look things
over and select the shops where we wished to trade. Just
across the street from camp was a store where we bought
milk and bread. This store keeper sold live chickens for
thirty five cents (.35) each. Margretta roasted one for our
thanksgiving dinner.


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A trailer party pulled into camp, Mr. And Mrs.
O’T. from Madison, Wis. They had been on the road
since spring and were now leisurely on their way home.
Mr. O’T. was a locomotive engineer during the war with
the United States forces in France. One night he was
pulling an ammunition train which was hit by a German
aeroplane bomb. He has received a disability check from
the government ever since. He was in poor shape
physically. Mr. And Mrs. O’T. were splendid company
and helped make our visit here a pleasant one. They were
members of the Tin Can Tourists Association and told us
about attending one of the conventions.

Then more company came. A young couple from
Chicago, riding a camp wagon. He had been employed for
many years at an Insull controlled plant. During this
time he had bought his company’s stock. He was laid off
so immediately sold his stock. What a lucky chap,
because a month later Mr.Insull disappeared and all his
interests failed. This camper made a very clever job of
building his own home on a new Chevrolet truck chassis.
They had been traveling in it for more than a year.
Several days later they moved on eastward with Florida as
their destination.

Many pleasant hours were spent in the recreation
hall, playing games or just sitting around chatting.
The manager and his wife had been farmers in
Missouri and were now trying this cabin camp and gas
station as a new venture. About two years after our visit
we received a letter from him in which he stated that they
were doing well with the camp.


Episode II

Duck hunting season was open in Louisiana.
One of the gas stations attendants at camp, one afternoon,
shot twenty of them. The rice fields in this area furnish
their feed.

We called for our mail at the Post Office and set a
new mail address for Redlands, California, care of
Margretta’s sister (Augusta).’
Trip 0 miles.’

These excerpts from so many years ago is
interesting to us. It’s a view through a keyhole
into the depression days, the many people who
had been displaced and became travelers and
campers. Their attitudes were remarkably

The Tin Can Tourist Association of that day was
pretty large. It held conventions just across the
Peace River, from where we now live, in Punta
Gorda, Florida.
The cost of live chickens and the preparation of
their meals, as well as the maintenance of their
car and camp equipment is really a lost art. My
dad had only learned to drive three months
before, yet he greased and changed the wheel
bearing, the oil and flat tires on the car.

In comparison our camping equipment needs
little attention. Most of our metal is aluminum,
not heavy rusting iron that needed to be painted.
Mom, in the same manner wrung the neck and


Episode II

plucked the chicken without a second thought.
Neither Arlene nor I could even catch one much
less try to wring it’s neck.

Finally, the roads we travel today are all hard
topped or graded dirt or sand like Wright Lake.
Driving on them allows us the luxury of few
blowouts or flat tires, and driving on them allows
us to move along at twice or three times their
daily travel distances. Crushed shell roads were
much better than dusty ruts, 2 feet deep, dirt and
mud, but they are still sharp and lead my parents
to plenty of flat tires. At one point when driving
into Miami they had to stop because of the crabs
crossing the road, which would have cut their
tires to shreds.

We arrived at Sam Houston Jones State Park in
the afternoon, in time to watch and listen to the
daily high-speed motorboats racing up and down
the river beside the campgrounds.
They were sleek, brightly colored, low and
pointed with large motors jutting up behind, and
they screamed past us at full throttle. In fact they
were warming up for the race this weekend.

We were pretty quick to find a flat spot and start
unloading our gear. You can see here that Arlene
had laid out the table cloth on the picnic table
before we pilled on the goods. We had already
gotten pretty good at organizing our equipment,
placing the camp stove at one end and right
behind it our pots, pans, and plates and utensils.


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