First days on the road

Having left home four hours later than planned because of the ‘weather delay’ I didn’t cover as many miles as planned.  I have headed to Florida at least once a year over the past three years.  My usual first night stop is a KOA in Amarillo, TX. As it was getting very late I choose to stop in the Dumas, TX, Walmart parking lot for the night.

Now the usual thought is it will get warmer the further south one heads … oh no!  it was in the high 20s when I stopped, and the wind was BLOWING.  I set up the camper and turned on the furnace. The camper quickly became comfortable and I had a quick soup dinner.  After filling my stomach I turned off the furnace, closed the window curtains to keep in some of the heat and climbed into bed.  The wind was blowing hard enough to rock truck & camper, kinda’ like sleeping on the boat I was towing with the truck.  A few hours later I was under both the quilt & sleeping bag and Momma Kitty was also wanting to get under the covers.

In the morning I checked camper temperature before turning on the heater. The weather service was reporting Dumas temps in the mid-20s, inside the camper was 35 degrees.  Now this isn’t warm, or even cool .. this is cold.  I was impressed that the camper was above freezing with the only heat source after I turned off the furnace being me & the cat.

Glad to have the heater running as I prepared to make breakfast and have my morning cup of coffee I looked out the windows to see the wind still blowing and light freezing mist/fog falling.  Using the smartphone the road reports were not discouraging.  The forecast said the daytime temps would rise to the mid-50s.

Very cold while ‘breaking camp’.  Even wearing gloves my fingers got numb.  The temp wasn’t all that bad, I’ve camped many times below zero degrees, it was the wind.  REALLY blowing.

Heading out of town I continued southeast toward Dallas and Fort Worth on highway 287.  This is a well maintained road.  The Texas section is mostly divided highway, but has many side roads and crossovers.  One must keep an eye out on these road types as folks are apt pull out in front of you from a cross street; or suddenly decided to slam on their brakes in order to turn off the highway … like one truck driving Texan did.

I don’t like driving through Dallas nor Fort Worth.  The highways are always under significant construction and the traffic bumper to bumper.  I find taking Hwy 380 north of the cities a faster and less stressful drive.  Once east of the traffic I took Hwy 69 down to Interstate 20.

Through the day the Tundra’s outside temperature gauge never rose above 39 degrees.  So much for the forecaster’s prediction.  The wind was also blowing from the east east-northeast.  The truck was averaging around 9.5 MPG.  This is about 4 MPG lower than usual.

Until you drive though Texas you don’t  really appreciate the state’s size.  TEXAS IS BIG.  It was mid-evening, had driven 500 miles and I was just approaching Tyler, TX.  For the night I choose to stay in Tyler State Park. My experience is that state parks are wonderful places.  Less expensive than most private campgrounds and having excellent facilities.  Tyler State Park was great: campground and sites surrounded by trees, camping spots that are spread out so one isn’t camping ‘on top of’ the next person; clean bathrooms, and helpful staff.  I choose a spot with power and water and settled in for the night.

(Sorry for the lack of pictures … I had taken some, I thought, but they didn’t ‘show up’ on my phone.)

– Dave

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