Well, this day didn’t suck

It was cool and flowery smelling this morning when Michael took Chip out for his morning walk.  Actually it was more accurate to say that Chip made it very clear it was time to go out and walk.  So, walk they did.

There isn’t much to recommend the area for a walk with the boy.  We have a very small RV parking area which has room for 6 rigs.  There’s plenty of grass and smells for the boy but it doesn’t take much time to cover the available territory.

There’s a “residential” street across the highway but even that has enough traffic to make a walk less that totally relaxing.  Residential is in quotes because it’s really a country road with smaller roads or driveways leading to houses, every 50 yards or so and a creek and cow pasture along the way.

On the other hand, we made it out to the local TI and got some much needed information on the largest local attraction, the Biltmore and decided that yes, we should go ahead and make a day of it.  It sounds like we could actually make several days of it.

We were considering going out on our last day at this camp, so we could drive Fay over, they have a lot for RV parking, and Chip could be happy at home while we tour the grounds, yet close enough we could check on him during the day.  We may just limit our Biltmore tour to 5 hrs and leave Fay parked at camp.  We’re not sure yet.

We also dropped by the Folk Art Center and was amazed and came away with a great looking mushroom reference and a strong desire to stay here for a few years.  Fiber, wood, clay, glass and metal arts, oh my!

By late evening we were treated to cloud lightning and lightning bug shows.  The latter were filling the trees around the camp and even going off high above our heads.  It looked like the trees were filled with stars.

Now there’s an impressive rainstorm drumming down on the roof while tree frog stowaways, we still have at least two, sing outside our bedroom.

Nighty night.

Keepin’ it 100 – fun with electricity

Recap:  Last night we pulled into a pretty camp in South Carolina, hooked up shore power and … nothin.  Would we have to sweat through the night and our shorts?  Would we share loudly rumbling diesel generator sounds and fumes with our neighbors?  Would the Hampton Inn take a mild-mannered Schnauzer?

The RV park had another 50 amp spot available and allowed / suggested we move there, to the edge of the campground where running the gennie all night would disturb other campers less.  They even offered us a refund, if we decided to go to a hotel instead, which was especially gracious and not something every park would do.  So Michael unplugged stuff, stowed the landing pads, and off we went to another spot.  Turn off the engine, the generator, and all air conditioners.  Plug in to this 50 amp pole, and wait for the fancy surge protector to run its checks.  It’s only 88° now but a zillion % humidity.  Wait.  And…. it works!  Happy, happy, joy, joy!  Turn on the cool air and break out the gin, ’cause the thing magically fixed itself!  OK, it didn’t really.  What probably happened, to get technical for a sec, is voltage dips at the old site made the transfer switch say “No way.”  South Carolina’s had flooding and a tornado recently, and maybe this power pole is corroded.  Contacts on our reel probably need cleaning too.  Many points of failure have to agree that today is not a good day to die, in order for the bus to have power.  It turned out fine, nothing caught fire, no misery this time.  Well, none apart from wondering whether essential utilities would function, after a day of driving with another travel day coming in the morning.

Speaking of the morning, guess what?  The generator didn’t feel like it, so it went … On?  …no, how about Off.  Ha ha!  *sigh*  No gennie while driving means no AC in the bus while driving six hours in upper 90° temps, except what blows out of the dash.  Trust me, that won’t cut it.  Parboiled ain’t a good look for Chip.  Experience told Michael to force a hard reboot on the generator’s brain.  Is there a switch for that?  Yeah right.  Here’s the switch: pull open the gennie drawer, take the cover off, remove a coolant reservoir, release a catch with a screwdriver, then lever a ribbon cable off the computer, count to five, and reconnect everything.  That’s how you reboot.  Thankfully, it did the trick and appeased the motor gods.  For now.

It’s another fun filled day of driving along the interstate.  What could go wrong?  Shush.

Benchmark Coach & RV Park in Meridian MS

If you find yourself passing through or needing to stay in Meridian Mississippi for a bit, you won’t go wrong by stopping at Benchmark Coach & RV Park in Marion (Facebook).

The park is surrounded by trees and is small by most standards but well kept.  It’s mowed regularly and the washroom and showers are clean and functional. The owner, Randy Spitzkeit is friendly and helpful.

We moved a table over after the picture was taken

The site we were in was plenty large enough for our 40′ class A and had both a concrete pad for the coach and gravel area for the toad with full hookups and 30/50 Amp power. There aren’t enough tables for all the sites but if you want one, Randy will likely give the ok to move one from an empty site.

The surrounding trees didn’t block the satellite signal from Dish. There’s not a lot we watch on satellite but if possible, we prefer to get local channels that way since we don’t have to futz with the OTA antenna.

Camp wifi is what you’d expect.  Available but often overloaded.  You might be able to do simple browsing and email during the day but at night you can forget doing anything once people get home and start streaming video.

Cell signal with ATT and Google Fi is weak so bring a booster if you need a strong connection to the internet or cell network. We were testing out a new router from OTA Mobile (ATT) and had no problems getting and staying online when using our WeBoost Drive 4G-X OTR.

The camp itself isn’t great for walking dogs. The roadways are all gravel and the field at the East end does have ticks. Make sure your dogs have their treatments and check them before getting back into your RV if you walk them down there.

To the point, without being obnoxious

They have a nice dog park though, which is a large grassy area but be aware that if it’s rained recently there will probably be some standing water.

Better for walking your dog nearby will be Marion Dr. where there isn’t a lot of traffic and most of the residents are friendly. There are a couple of dogs along the way but most are restrained, though exceptionally barky, or are off leash and harmless. I’m talking to you, Mr. Dachsund.

You’ll also find a nursery and the McInnis Pottery studio at the South bend of the street across a private railroad crossing.

A crossing that’s quite pretty at blue and golden hours.

We stayed for nearly two weeks and found it quite comfortable (excepting some minor problems we had with our AC). There were a good number of people that stayed only a week or even just a night and several Tiffins came through on their way to or from Red Bay, which is where we were headed after finishing up in Meridian.

Benchmark from the roof

For more pictures and larger versions of those above, head over here.

Here’s also some video of the park and walk along Marion Dr.

While you’re in the area, give the Dentzel carousel, Temple Theater, Mississippi Industrial Heritage Museum (Soule Steamworks), Captain’s Amish Store and Sciple’s Mill a visit.

Ride the Dentzel Carousel in Meridian MS

If you find yourself in Meridian, Mississippi you’ll see pretty carousel horses around town – in front of shops, the train station, City Hall – all over. Plenty of towns have painted statuary animals, like the buffalo in Custer, SD and cats in Catskills, NY, but Meridian actually has a working carousel. It’s not a recent thing dreamed up by a tourism bureau, either. The Dentzel Carousel in Highland Park is over a century old, and the best part is you can still ride it. Whee!

Gustav Dentzel built the grand old carousel in 1896 for the 1904 St. Louis Exposition. The city of Meridian was a happening place in 1909, full of culture and commerce, when they bought the carousel and had it installed in its own special house, made from a Dentzel blueprint. Generations have grown up riding the carousel horses at birthday parties and on happy summer days just ’cause. In 1977 the carousel, Carousel House, and Highland Park were placed on the National Register of Historic Places, and they became National Historic Landmarks in 1986. Highland Park, with its gazebos, duck pond, swimming pool, and Jimmie Rodgers museum, is worth a stroll, remembering the gentlemen in suits and ladies wearing long dresses and feathered hats who used to promenade along the paths when the Queen City enjoyed prosperity.

Follow this link above for more information on the carousel and when it’s open as well as the Wikipedia and InYourState pages.

For more pictures of the carousel 110 years after it arrived in Meridian, head over here.

While you’re in Meridian, check out the shrimp and grits at Weidmann’s or a refreshing salad at the Harvest Grill. The Soulé Steam Feed Works is pretty awesome if you have time for a tour, and the belt-driven machines look a whole lot like the carousel’s works. If you only have a few minutes on a weekend afternoon or a summer day when the carousel is open, you gotta ride the horses – or the antelope, or even the lion.

Letter Home 4

Where we’ve been and what we’ve done, from Northern California to Yosemite.

Willit’s KOA 00:22

Drive-through tree park 00:56

One-log house 2:10

Richardson Grove State Park 2:25

Napa Fairgrounds & City 3:17

Sterling Vineyard 4:07

William Harrison Winery 6:07

Driving to Yosemite 6:28

Yosemite Pines RV Resort 7:00

Yosemite Day 1 8:25

Yosemite Day 2 10:18

Yosemite Day 3 12:54

Leaving Yosemite 16:00

Look for more travel stories at https://dragonseye.com/blog/category/greatwander/

The music used is 7th Floor Tango by Silent Partner, Way Out west, Fresh Fallen Snow and Mirage by Chris Haugen, Beth by VYEN available from Google https://www.youtube.com/audiolibrary/music

Fonts used are Lobster Regular from https://fonts.google.com/

Regularly Grooming RV Sites?

Is it really that difficult?

We know of at least two camps that would say no.

Hacienda RV Resort in Las Cruces

and Mountaindale Cabins & RV Resort in Colorado Springs.

Most other camps seem to never groom their sites or only do it at the end of the season, regardless of how uneven the sites have become. We’re looking at you, Glenwood Canyon Resort in Glenwood Springs.

Major kudos to both Hacienda and Mountaindale!

Open letter to Netflix and Amazon about VPN use

Please give us a way to certify that we aren’t spoofing our location to get around region blocks.

There’s a large group of people like us who travel regularly, need to use whatever wifi is available and also need to make sure our online usage is protected as much as it can be.

We would also like to watch the streaming service we’re paying for.

While we understand that there is (probably) a larger number of people using VPNs to get around region blocks, there are many who are not.

Who are they?


We may move weekly or monthly and aren’t always sure how we’ll be connected to the indispensable internet once we finish moving and set up camp.

We may connect through free camp wifi to save on our precious minutes or because even with a cell booster, we can’t use our phone or hotspot. 

And more often than not, the camp wifi is unsecured.  Even if it’s secured, who knows if everyone in the camp can be trusted.  A VPN is not just a good idea.  It’s the only idea.

Even if we can connect to our cell plan we may want to keep the additional layer of safety going.

If you have a trusted VPN, the next problem you’ll have is that your streaming service has probably blocked great swaths of IP addresses that your VPN uses.  You may even find that where you purchase 1/4 of your products has also decided to block VPNs for normal buying access.

Netflix and Amazon.  I’m talking to you.

Even if you have a VPN service that claims you can use either, it means that you’ll be engaged in an endless game of whack-a-mole as the service blocks IP addresses and your VPN opens up new addresses to get around the block.

One day you’ll be streaming safely and the next day, you’re locked out.

Netflix and Amazon, let your users certify that they’re using VPN for their own safety.

There are many ways you could validate where we’re actually logging in from, both before and after we activate the VPN.  Let us do this so that we can browse safely and use the streaming services WE’RE PAYING FOR.

You’ll make the honest users happier and happy users are more likely to give you more money.

Unhappy users are more likely to jump ship.

Please.  Just do this.

I know that for us, this one thing is the only thing that’s making us think about cutting the virtual streaming cord.

New video! Camp Summaries 3

Quick coverage of the third 8 camps we stayed in during the first leg of the Great Wander.  The first 16 are featured in https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sMMVrjn4Y_0 and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHx7c9W3HDc

Camps covered in this episode

Camping World, Longmont CO https://rv.campingworld.com/dealer/longmont-colorado

Spruce Lake RV Resort, Estes Park CO http://sprucelakerv.com/

Douglas KOA, WY https://koa.com/campgrounds/douglas/

Devil’s Tower /Black Hills KOA, WY https://koa.com/campgrounds/devils-tower/

Beaver Lake Campground, Custer SD http://www.beaverlakecampground.net/

Cedar Pass Campground, Interior SD http://cedarpasslodge.com/campground/

Buffalo Ridge Camp Resort, Custer SD http://www.buffaloridgecampresort.com/

Flintstones Bedrock Mystery https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDSksgbUWgQ

Indian Campground, Buffalo WY http://www.indiancampground.com/

Link to light repair article: https://dragonseye.com/blog/2018/09/Oh,-look.-The-other-headlight-fell-off/

New video! Camp Summaries 2

Quick coverage of the second 8 camps we stayed in during the first leg of the Great Wander. The first 8 are featured in https://dragonseye.com/blog/2018/12/New-video!-Camp-Summaries-1/

Twin Fountains RV Park, Oklahoma City, OK http://www.twinfountainsrvpark.com/index.html

Shiloh Vineyard, WaKeeny, KS http://www.shilohvineyard.com/

Dakota Ridge RV Park, Golden CO http://www.dakotaridgerv.com/

Evergreen CO

Glenwood Canyon Resort, Glenwood CO http://glenwoodcanyonresort.com/rv-sites.html

Winery at Holycross Abbey, Canon City CO http://abbeywinery.com/

Pueblo KOA, Pueblo CO https://koa.com/campgrounds/pueblo/

Mountaindale Cabins & RV Resort, Colorado Springs CO http://www.mountaindalecampground.com/