Saturday June 17
Day 6
Poplar Bluff to Bardstown, KY

I must say this has not been the liesurely trip I anticipated. I had envisioned driving maybe 2 hours until I got tired of driving, then pulling over and relaxing for an hour -- fire up the laptop, work on this travelogue, read my book, walk the dogs, whatever -- then drive on. When I started getting sleepy at the wheel, I envisioned stopping for a nice nap on the couch. Mornings, I envisioned enjoying my favorite pastime, reading snug in bed; then puttering around doing this and that and finally getting on the road about 10. What with the heat, and the deficient generator (it is now completely useless -- it starts up OK, but 5 minutes later it stalls, load or no load.) all these relaxing little stops are a thing of the imaginary past. I have to drive straight through, except for the necessary stop for lunch which I have to eat sitting in the driver's seat with the motor running and the dash A/C on. I rise at first light and hustle out to potty the dogs and wash the bugs off the windshield before it starts warming up. I move fairly briskly through my morning routine attempting to get on the road before 8 to miss the worst of the day's heat. At the dog stops, the dogs hurry up and do their thing then rush back into the motorhome, which while not exactly cool is at least cooler than outside. The one saving grace is that I am doing shorter legs -- 4 or 5 driving hours per day -- which means with gas stops, and the lunch stop, and dog potty stops, I get to my destination by 4 PM and can quickly hook up and turn on the A/C. Blessed relief! No, it isn't 72 degrees, but I am very happy with 78 degrees in the evening and 75 degrees overnight. The East does NOT cool down at night like it does in California.

I hope the generator's problem is something simple like a clogged fuel filter that can be easily fixed once I arrive in New Jersey. If not, I am majorly rethinking my return route -- via Salt Lake and across Nevada? I think NOT! I shall peruse a weather map and choose the route with the coolest temps.

I had a recurrence of the flopping door handle problem in the Poplar Bluffs RV Park, after several days with no problems. Whipped out the stepstool stored behind the drivers door -- and discovered that while I could now step up into the stirrup provided for climbing into the driver's door, the step from the stirrup to the floorboards is still too high for my knees. Had to count on the kindness of strangers again. After that, I was careful to crate the dogs every time I stepped out of the motorhome, so I could leave the door ajar. In the morning, I stopped at the first Wal-Mart I passed and bought a genuine stepladder rather than a stepstool. I should be able to climb up the ladder until I can step straight into the driver's door if I need to. Memo to self; be careful never to park where there is not sufficient flat land next to the driver's door to set a stepladder on. :-} I also found another 12 volt fan at Wal-Mart, so each dog now has her own fan blowing on her as we swelter down the road.

Poplar Bluff was right on the edge of the Ozarks, so I drove eastward into flat country and soon reached the Mississippi River. Of course, no chance to get a pic of the Father of Waters. Southwestern Kentucky countryside Southwestern Kentucky countryside Within a mile or two I also crossed the Ohio close to where it converges with the Mississippi, and that was a visual surprise! The Ohio at that point appears mightier than the Mississippi. Checking my map, I see I crossed the Mississippi just above its confluence with the Ohio. One must therefore assume that much of the might of the Mississippi is actually courtesy of the Ohio.

Once into Kentucky, I entered the "get lost" phase of my trip. a narrow Kentucky backroad painted barn on a backroad Kentucky roads are poorly marked, so it is oh so easy to fail to make a correct turn; and once you exit onto a Kentucky country road, you find yourself on a 55 mph road with no shoulder, the pavement dropping directly into a ditch, the lane just barely wide enough for the motorhome if I hug the white line, and noooo where to turn a motorhome around for miles and miles and miles and miles...
And if you make a turn onto the wrong expressway, there is no exit where you can switch directions, for miles and miles and miles. I saw quite a bit of Kentucky countryside and it wasn't too bad except for the horrible moment when a truck going 55 passed in the opposite direction on one of those little country roads. I was going around 40 so our combined speed was 95, and I swear we damned near kissed sides as we went by. Add to that the sucking action that happens when you pass a truck at speed, and you have a moment of pure terror.

I had intended to reach my planned RV Park at Horse Cave, KY around 4 PM. With the getting losts including a 20-mile hike up the wrong expressway, I never came anywhere near Horse Cave, and with the many got losts, it was more like 6 PM not 4 PM. Southwestern Kentucky countryside Southwestern Kentucky countryside

One happy occurrence was that I drove into a pouring rainstorm, which cooled the world and removed heat-stress as an urgent reason to reach a campground. Note these 2 pictures -- taken in the rain, cleverly timing the snap between the sweep of the wiper blades. :-) Southwestern Kentucky countryside Southwestern Kentucky countryside It came with thunder and lightning though so poor Windy, who is terrified of thunder, had a small cow back there. She desperately wanted to crawl into my lap but fortunately she could not.

At that point I was driving the Western Kentucky Parkway, which is beautiful, surrounded by a tree belt, but you can not see any roadside businesses so I couldn't spot any RV Parks to stop at. After extricating myself from one more accidental jaunt down a narrow country road, I noticed that US 62 parallels the Parkway on the north, so I drove up there and got on it. Miles and miles and miles, and nothing but farms and auto parts stores. Back on the Parkway, figuring I would find an RV Park in Elizabethtown, the next town coming up. Nope, after spiralling around Elizabethtown (or horribly rough, narrow roads through the town center, shaking the bejasus out of the motorhome and all its contents) I gave up on finding an RV Park. Didn't seem like the kind of town that would have them; a pretty industrial looking place. It's now after 7 PM and I am getting very anxious because I want to get off the road, and maneuvered into a parking spot (sometimes not so easy), before full dark. I see Bardstown is only 25 miles down the Blue Grass Parkway and I had researched an excellent RV Park in Bardstown when I was planning the trip, so I decide to race the light to Bardstown. Back to the Western Kentucky Parkway which is the same Interstate as the Blue Grass Parkway -- it just changes its name at Elizabethtown. And once again into the twilight zone, in more ways than one now considering the hour... round and round in circles, on this expressway or the other, until I finally located the Blue Grass Parkway. You see, you have to take a jog on the I65 north towards Louisville in order to continue on the Parkway... and are there a big signs that say "Use I65 to Bluegrass Parkway?" Or even "I66 continuation, next exit"? Oh no, this is Kentucky.

8 PM and I am in Bardstown looking for Holt's Campground, which is said to be on 245 where it crosses 1430. Holts Campground in Bardstown KY The fishing lake in the morning
Is there any signage at that intersection indicating the campground? Oh no. More driving in spirals before I finally spotted a couple of motorhomes parked in the distance and thus discovered that you must turn onto 1430 to arrive at the campground, which has only a tiny unobtrusive sign. But, I had to drive on by because by now I had my red warning light LOW FUEL so the nearest gas station was the first priority. Oh well, to cut to the chase, I did finally arrive in Holt's Campground, by the very latest glimmer of twilight, got myself parked and the electric connected, and it is really as lovely a campground as I had thought from its web site. So after all the stress and the wandering, I am happy to be camped here.