TWD Video Downloads TWD Home Page TWD Journal Archive TWD Books Page TWD Photo Gallery TWD Musings Index

USA 2007 Aboard Rocinante

Bill and LindaOn February 14, 2007 I celebrated Diesel's fourth year of earthly existence by establishing this web location for his travel logs.  I must confess that as revised it is now not completely about the dog, and has become somewhat of a virtual museum for my travels. While these travels began in 1977, I blame an English teacher named Fred Smith for introducing me to the writings of John Steinbeck when I was attending high school in Canton, Pennsylvania back in 1960.  He had quickly seen that while I had mastered the mechanics of reading as a source of information, I did still not know the real thrill of being entranced by a writer.  He loaned me his copy of Grapes of Wrath and I have been forever embarrassed by the state of the book Rocinantewhen I returned it to him.  In ruining the book I learned that in the hands of a writer likeSteinbeck, the members of a fictional family like the Joads could be more real than many of the flesh and blood people that I knew and that I could vicariously experience their sometimes tortured lives.  Soonafter I was going to California in my mind through the pages of East of Eden, Cannery Row, The Red Pony, and Of Mice and Men.  When I got to Travels with Charley, Steinbeck led me out through the fictional curtain and into the musings of a real man, with a real dog, driving a real house-on-wheels to wherever he wanted to go in America. 

My laptop arrived in the mail and we made our getaway at 10:00 AM on May 22, 2007. We arrived at a KOA just north of Natural Bridge, VA in Lexington, where we learned a few more things about setting up our playhouse in each of its new venues.  The first major research issue was getting the hot water heater fired up, but after several hours of staring at the unit and squinting at the manual, I finally found an oddly placed switch that acted in a non-intuitive way to initiate the propane hot water heater and govern its ongoing use.  Next was a series of hilarious episodes getting the slinky hoses to run properly between the black/gray/white matter connection on the side of the unit to a hole in the ground nearby.  Initially the distance was too long for our ten foot slinky thing and it tended to spring back out of the sewer hole whenever no one was attending to it.   I then relocated the playhouse to be closer to the hole but that caused it to lean to the side too much for safe operation of the refrigerator etc.   I sought the advice of another Four Winds owner to figure out the location and set up procedure for TV cable connections and I have learned just enough about setting up the WiFi internet connection on our laptop to log a quick update to the website before going to bed.  I have also discovered that I have failed to load a page development environment to my laptop so I am limited to working in native HTML until I can figure out a better solution. Tomorrow we will eyeball the Natural Bridge before heading on toward Knoxville.

Natural Bridge5/23/07  Since yesterday we woke up at the Natural Bridge KOA and headed a few miles south on Route 11 to the Natural Bridge Visitor Center where the proprietor stripped us of $24 of our hard earned retirement bucks so that we could walk a steep set of 137 steps down into the gorge of Cedar Creek to see and photograph the Natural Bridge which was initially surveyed by George Washington  and purchased by Thomas Jefferson from King George III in 1774 along with the surrounding 197 acres for the grand sum of about $2.47.  So as near as I can figure it, it cost us ten times as much for us to look at it as it cost him to buy it. 

We had not yet figured out where we were going to stop for our second Pigeon Forge Morningnight out but a person at our previous night’s campsite had given a high hoot value to the KOA campsite in Pigeon Forge,TN near Knoxville which serves as a gateway to the exotic pleasures of Dollywood.  In turn, the presence of Dollywood had lured the attention of every kitsch architect from the western world to present their gaudy masterpieces along what had once probably been a pretty little mountain road to a Smoky Mountain village.  My favorite was some sort of Pigeon Forge Housemuseum/playhouse thing designed to look like a mansion that had been torn from its foundations by a tornado and deposited along the road on its smashed roof with upside down palm trees growing from its torn landscape.  I could only imagine what a walk through this land locked Poseidon Adventure would have been like but we decided to save it for another time.  The KOA was excellent and filled with very high end camping machinery that made our little Four Winds playhouse seem like a VW bug in a parking lot of Cadillacs.      

5/25/07  The next morning we researched our evening campsite possibilities and decided to skip Nashville for a future visit so that we could go on to Memphis for a two day layover to mess around in Elvis town and read our manuals enough to reset the clock on the radio for having arrived in the central time zone and to figure out why we were not getting DC power to our hot water heater and to our refrigerator when we were not hooked up to our AC umbilical at the campsites.  With much embarrassment we had not yet figured out where the fill point was for our fresh water tank so that we were still reliant upon roadside rest stops for our excretion requirements between hookups.

  So here we are today, a thousand miles from home in Marion, AR just on the other side of the Mississippi River from Memphis .  All of the above mentioned unknowns are now in the known column, Linda is inside our air conditioned comfort, we have prepared our laundry bag for our first trip to those facilities, we vacuumed our quarters so that they are fully restored to pre-trip orderliness, and I am outside at the picnic table lap tapping with the aid of my new wireless mini-mouse acquired yesterday on a side trip to Wally World following lunch at the Cracker Barrel in Cookeville, TN.  Our intentions for the morning are to rest and recuperate from too many highway miles, have a lazy afternoon at the campground pool, then an early and informal pasta dinner, and a long night of sleep.

5/26/07 We had a much appreciated breakfast of scrambled eggs and venison sausage as the guests of Jasper and Marie from the adjacent campsite and then traveled south on I-55  and TN-51 a few miles to the Graceland parking lot in Memphis.  We fired up our on-board generator so that the spoiled Diesel could live in air conditioned comfort while we toured the mansion without his company.  While waiting about 45 minutes we walked around taking some ambiance pictures before boarding our shuttle to the front of the mansion.

Graceland Marquee Graceland Living Room Graceland Playroom Graceland Graves

At the entrance we donned our little earphones to listen to the recorded commentary as we walked through the first floor rooms past the staircase to the upstairs sanctum sanctorum, and then made our way down the much mirrored stairway to the basement quarters of the Memphis Mafia.   The boys had a pretty amazing play area down there with many opportunities for boob tube watching or a bit of billiards.  Then back up another set of much carpeted stairs past the Jungle Room and kitchen to the backyard carport, Vernon's office, and the huge 'trophy area' and finally to the meditation garden where lie the remains of this amazing family from Tupelo.

5/27/07  Next came a short traveling day to the Morrilton, AR KOA, just past Little Rock and nearly to AR-65 that we intend to take north to the Ozark Folk Center and then on to Branson, MO.  We had anticipated a reservation problem so we booked here for two nights and that has enabled me to bicycle this morning to the nearby Wally World where I scored another device for enabling the smooth flow of sewage from the playhouse and another odd set of orange leveling blocks to insure that we are always on an even keel for the proper functioning of the refrigerator.  I have also down loaded a 60 day trial version of Microsoft's new website development environment called Expression Web so that I no longer need to update the Diesel site with HTML.  And finally, I have enough leisure time to download some crossword puzzles so that I can test myself for the right to continue living outside of continuous adult supervision.          

5/28/07 Today was an example of how even with the relative intimacy of an RV perspective on the countryside, it is still just a windshield projected road show documentary thing until a mechanical failure gets you down within handshaking distance of the real inhabitants of this country.  We started out early from Morrilton, AR in the hope of visiting a couple of interesting places in the Ozark Mountains before proceeding on to Branson.  About a half hour along the AR-9 near Overcup Lake, I got a warning light on the dash that urged me to check my instruments.  Sure enough, oil pressure was way down and engine temperature was nearing 260 degrees, so as soon as I could find a whale sized pull-over area, I brought the great machine to a steaming halt.  Without any more than a cursory review of the dip stick, I deduced an oil shortage and dispatched myself on my bicycle to retrieve some from a mini-mart that we had passed a few miles back.  Rode, rode, and rode before discovering that the mini-mart was closed for Memorial Day.  I continued to ride until I saw a man mowing his lawn and asked him where I would be likely to find some oil.  He said that there was a Wally World about four miles down the road and I told him that I thought that I had the legs for the ride; but he would have nothing of that solution and insisted upon driving me there to pick up the oil.  We had wonderfully insightful chat on the way there and back and then he put my bike in the back of his pick-up and we drove back to the RV and the anxiously waiting Linda. 

After the oiling up we drove about a mile further only to receive another dashboard warning and a rapidly rising engine temperature gauge.  I pulled into the first available area, got out the owner's manual and began a more serious study of the coolant system.  While I was studying the manual and reviewing the contents of the engine compartment, a local man named Jimmy Bates approached and gracefully offered his help.  He reviewed the symptoms with a careful mechanic's turn of mind and began to present a logical set of possibilities.  He deduced a failing thermostat and when I asked where the thermostat was located and whether it was possible to remove it and continue on without it until I could find a better situation for replacing it, he offered to take it out for me and to take me to a place where we might find a replacement.  He then set about his work in a very precise way including the removal of a skid plate and a overflow reservoir that blocked his access to the thermostat.  Hot dirty work from under the front of the truck was soon accomplished, and he then used his cell phone to find the only auto parts place that was open on Memorial Day and drove me there where we purchased some anti-freeze, but could not get a thermostat replacement.  After a total of about three hours of his effort everything was working fine, and for the last hour or so we met Jimmy's wife Hazel and his two daughters Angel and Tamika. Tamika Bates and Diesel The two girls played a vigorous game of 'stick' and a few rounds of 'tire' with Diesel before he became exhausted from playing in the hot sun and began to hallucinate that his toy tire had grown to be bigger than he was.  At our best we humans are so amazingly helpful to each other and it is such a shame that the media has followed the interests of our lowest common denominator in over-presenting our very worst aspects. 

We were then running much to late to do anything except to follow the extreme undulations of AR-9 to the Ozark Folk Center near Mountain View, AR where we ate a late lunch before continuing east on AR-66 to its intersection with AR-65 in Leslie.  From Leslie we raced along AR-65 across the Missouri border to Branson and checked into our KOA at about 7:00 PM.

5/29/07  We were majorly tired by the previous day's mechanical traumas so on the first day in Branson we slept late and then had a $4.99 all-you-can-eat breakfast at the KOA restaurant/gift shop.  Linda then busied herself with household restoration duties while I rode off into Branson on my bicycle to retrieve asparagus and chardonnay for our planned evening dinner with slow cooked turkey.  I also took the camera along in an attempt to visually capture this phenomenal place. 

Ripley MuseumLike Pigeon Forge, Branson is much filled with odd things like the Ripley Museum appearing to barely have survived some sort of mid-contenent earthquake. As I peddled west to east on the main drag I first encountered what must have been almost a full scale replica of the Titanic complete with the iceberg that did her in.  I deduced that the ship served as some sort of theater/convention center but quickly moved along the street to the next attraction which was sort of a movie set for a 1950's coming of age film complete with various mid-fifties dream cars, a burgers and shakes restaurant, and a little theater showing bobbysoxer acts of some sort. 

Across the street from this Happy Days scene was a kind of 1/10 scale Mt. Rushmore-like collection of filmdom faces that announces the Hollywood Wax Museum.  Hardly an intellectual gasp down the street I found a shop with a fine assortment of dulcimers.  There were, of course endless opportunities in indulge in the national pastime of overeating.   Then I quickly took a look at the Grand Palace Theater where we were scheduled to see the Oak Ridge Boys on the following evening before walking around the grounds of the Andy Williams' Moon River Theater where he was appearing in a double billing with Glenn Campbell.  I wandered for a while through an odd Ozark miniature golf course before crossing the street to try and get a handle on some tourist transportation devices that were called ducks.  These concepts apparently transport there excited passengers through the streets of Branson and then dip into a nearby lake as a cruise vehicle.

Branson Titanic Branson Overview Branson Rushmore Branson Duck

 5/30/07  We had intermittent rain and continuously threatening skies all day today so we were not able to pull off our planned tour of old Branson town.  By middle afternoon I finally launched a bike trip to secure some broccoli and bottled water.  On my return from the store, my rear tire went flat and after a long push over many hills, I temporarily abandoned the 24 bottles of water for a next day's retrieval with the RV and pushed on back to the campsite.  The longer than planned return gave me only a little time to shower and select a 'cute little outfit' for the KOA shuttle ride to the Grand Palace to attend the evening's Oak Ridge Boys performance.  Linda had attended Frankford High School with Joe Bonsall of the Oakies so I took her picture with his cardboard likeness in the lobby before we went to our seats for what turned out to be a really great concert.

Linda and Joe Bonsall Bass Man The Oak Ridge Boys

Route 66

Musings Index

Another 9/11 Anniversary

Baryogenesis

How Did Here Get Here?

Chase's 7th Birthday

The Fabric of Reality

A Clockwork Orange

Epistomology Strand

The Grand Inquisitor

Consumerism Versus Genocide

Art for Art's Sake

Edvard Munch

Vasili Kandinsky

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

Piet Mondrian

Kasemir Malevich

Rene Magritte

Salvador Dali

Evolutionary Strand

Information Theory Strand

Traversable Wormholes

Awareness Communicated

Mimetic Theory

The Mother Singularity

Mimetic Theory

The Standard Model

Thought and Symbol

The Schwarzschild Radius

Symbolic Technologies

Dark Things

Fukuyama on Transhumanism

Are We There Yet?

A Transhumanist Manifesto

The Arrows of Time

A Quantum Telescope

Epiphenomenalism

Transhumanism As Entitlement

The Road to Reason

Persistence of Memes

Now What?

Instantiated Consciousness

Commandments

Evolution of God

Shamanism

The Rise of Yahweh

Semitic Origins

Muhammad

Galileo's Commandment

The Relevancy of Science

The Bible

The Quran

Marketing God

Adam and Eve

Cain and Abel

Noah and the Ark

Procreation Management

Machining a New Soul

The Human Codon Alphabet

Symbiotic Colony

The Moist Robot

Bottom Up Genealogy

The Genetic Revolution

The Nanotechnology Revolution

The Robotic Revolution

Universal Information Processing

Memetic Matryoshka

Holonomic Brain Theory

Introduction to Wetware

Seeing in a Quantum World

Thinking In the Quantum World

What's the Matter?

What's the Purpose?

Post Primordial Nucleosynthesis

The CNO Cycle

The Genesis Stone

Protocells

Chemistry to Biochemistry

A Model of the Neocortex

Nonlocality Entanglement

Biochemistry to Neurobiology

Molecular History

Under the Tree of Life

Matter Conclusion

Resurrection

Socratic Aestheticism

A Mind in a Cloud

Eschatology

From the Other Side

Marcel Duchamp

Pablo Picasso

Echos of Ray Bradbury

Entropy

Introns

Formative Books

Herculaneum's Library

Roman Public Libraries

Lucretius

Epicurius

Religious Pluralism

Thermoinfocomplexity

Diagnostic Irregularities

Quantum Decohesion

Quantum Free Will

Three Wise Men

Pattern Recognition

Consciousness and the Iliad

The Alphabetic Principle

Iran Itinerary