RV Life – Year One – Spring

Eye of the Beholder - RV Life - Year One - Spring

From the Tennessee mountains to the Texas coast, Spring in the American heartland never disappoints.

After returning to Tennessee from The Maiden Voyage, Spring was in the air and we were feeling pretty good about our decision to Go RV. The truck and trailer worked great and we were beginning to feel at home in our tiny house on wheels.

We were parked at the Manchester KOA, tucked away under tall shade trees not too far from my dad’s house near Morrison. Home to Bonnaroo, a world-famous music festival, Manchester is a perfect launch point to all kinds of amazing Tennessee attractions.

Eye of the Beholder - RV Life - Year One - Spring
Rock Island State Park. Photo by Loc Giang.

Chattanooga and Nashville are close by, offering a long list of options for fun-filled day trips.

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Middle Tennessee is a beautiful place to witness the blossoms of spring as Magnolias, Dogwoods, Redbuds, Forsythias, Bradfords, tulips, and daffodils color the awakening world with shades of pink, purple, white, yellow, and orange. It’s also a great time of the year to fish some amazing Tennessee lakes.

Eye of the Beholder - RV Life - Year One - Spring

Three of my local favorites are a short drive from Manchester;

We rented a pontoon for a pleasant day on the water with my dad to catch some fish and sunshine.

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We had a pretty good idea already on our plans for the year and we knew we’d be spending our first RV winter in the desert Southwest, so Cheri went to work planning our reservations. This was a lesson learned from A Trial Run, Part 4. Our plan now is to always have reservations in place before venturing out. This would be more important than ever as our new lifestyle required dependable accommodations for my work week.

We worked together to plan the routes we’d be driving along with the destinations we had in mind. This allowed us to plan each travel weekend for a projected time and distance, as well as how long we’d expect to stay at each location. By the time we pulled-out of Tennessee we had our entire year planned out. Our first destination was Kansas City for a visit with friends and family.

On the way to KC, we stopped at Warsaw, Missouri to visit cousins Baron and Amber, our family experts on the RV lifestyle. They were incredibly helpful during our preparations for the RV Life. We stayed at a rural campground just down the road from them called The Last Resort.

In the heart of the Ozarks, The Last Resort is about 12 miles downriver from the Truman Reservoir & Dam. Lake life and all its amenities can be found all over this region. We love getting out on the water with a pontoon boat and cooler full of cold drinks. The water is still quite cold in May, so I’d recommend a summer visit if you intend to get wet.

Eye of the Beholder - RV Life - Year One - Spring

The Ozarks is a vast playground for the outdoor enthusiast.

Whatever your pleasure, watersports, hiking, biking, fishing, or hunting, you can find it all in this diverse ecosystem of woodlands and waterways.

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We encountered our first RV equipment malfunction when we arrived at The Last Resort to set-up camp. One of the leveling legs failed. With Baron’s help we figured out a way to get the trailer stabilized manually during our stay.

This was our introductory course on how to get RV service while traveling. In short, it was a hassle. After several back-and-forth calls with the Keystone warranty department, we finally made arrangements for a local mobile RV technician to come to our camp site and perform the repairs. The technician successfully replaced the leg but he could not complete the recalibration of the leveling system. We needed to take the rig into a service center to complete the procedure.

We left Warsaw for Kansas City, a short 2-hour drive, and parked the rig at the Trailside RV Park in Grain Valley, Missouri. This is a convenient location close to many of our friends and family. It’s also situated right across Interstate-70 from a Camping World facility, where we could finish the RV leveling system repairs.

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It was quite disruptive being homeless for the day while our trailer was stuck in the service bay. The good news was we were in our home town and knew lots of people, so we made a day of it. The best part is that this particular Camping World operates on the weekends, so I didn’t have the added hassle of finding a place to work.

Eye of the Beholder - RV Life - Year One - Spring

If you’ve never been to Kansas City, you should consider adding it to your list of desired destinations.

A lovely river city perched on a hilltop overlooking the confluence of the Kansas & Missouri rivers, KC offers modern metropolitan venues along with historic old town charm.

Enjoy a cosmopolitan stroll through The Plaza to view the famous fountains. Tour the Nelson-Atkins Museum or visit the Kaufman Center for the Performing Arts. See the Power & Light District and take in a show at the T-Mobile Center.

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For sports fans there’s the Chiefs, Royals, and Sporting KC, our hometown professional teams all with recent championship seasons. We made sure to take in a Royals game with our good friend Scott while we were there, enjoying a 9-inning contest against the Yankees.

Eye of the Beholder - RV Life - Year One - Spring
Harry S. Truman, the 33rd U.S. President. “The buck stops here!

There’s plenty of history in the Kansas City area too.

Here’s a few of our personal favorites;

If you’re a foodie, don’t leave town without sampling Kansas City BBQ! Our personal favorites are Smokehouse & Jack Stack.

After a wonderful visit in the KC area, we moved the rig southwest to the Kansas prairie town of Garnett.  Cheri has a niece and nephew in the area, so we spent a few days there catching up. We camped in town at North Lake Park, enjoying a quiet spot overlooking the 48-acre Lake Garnett.

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By the time we left Garnett, Memorial Day weekend had arrived. We were on the road heading south to hot Texas. Our first stop was to see an old friend from school days. See related story, Full Circle – The Kiss Forgotten.

Eye of the Beholder - RV Life - Year One - Spring
The Bass Performance Hall at Commerce & E 4th St in downtown Fort Worth.

We spent a few days with Marta & Luiz near the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

They took us downtown to see the Sundance Square.

Lovely shops, gorgeous architecture, and historic points of interest engaged the senses as we strolled down Commerce Street.

Our next Texas destination was Corpus Christi, a wonderful Gulf Coast city by the bay, protected by beautiful barrier islands. Padre Island stretches for over a hundred miles southward to the border, offering splendid beaches and remote wilderness. See Padre Island National Seashore.

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We parked the rig at the Colonia Del Rey RV Park and enjoyed a nice stay exploring the city, the barrier islands, and several nearby coastal communities. A few favorites from our visit include …

  1. The Selena Memorial:  The musical legend, Selena, was tragically killed at a very young age. Her memory lives on in her music and at the Mirador de la Flor (Overlook of the Flower). The USS Lexington can be seen from this spot as dozens of quaint shops and restaurants line the pier along this stretch of waterfront. We enjoyed an excellent seafood lunch at Landry’s.
  2. The Big Tree:  An ancient live oak estimated at over 1,000 years old. At home in the Goose Island State Park, The Big Tree is over 35 feet around at its base, more than 45 feet tall, with branches the size of tree trunks spreading outward to over 90 feet wide.
  3. South Padre:  We loved this area so much that we made the 3-hour drive from Corpus on three separate occasions. Something about South Padre spoke to our souls. The wind and the water, the soft sugar sand beach, the turquoise blue waters, the small-town feel, and the friendly people were all fantastic.
  • Eye of the Beholder - RV Life - Year One - Spring
  • Eye of the Beholder - RV Life - Year One - Spring
  • Eye of the Beholder - RV Life - Year One - Spring
  • Eye of the Beholder - RV Life - Year One - Spring

We left Corpus bound for Galveston. My younger brother Tom was living there at that time working his way through the Texas A&M Maritime Academy. Tom was about to welcome his first child into the world, so Uncle Steve & Aunt Cheri were coming to join the welcome wagon. My daughter was also living nearby at the time, about 4 hours away in San Antonio.

Since it was only a 4-hour drive to Galveston we decided to take a slower and more scenic route to get there, enjoying beautiful coastal towns and water views along Texas Highway 35, 332, the Bluewater Highway, and the San Luis Pass Road. It was late-June by this time, so when we arrived at the Jamaica Beach RV Park we were in the hottest part of the day.

The heat index was well over 100 degrees, so setting up camp in that heat was rather unpleasant. In less than an hour I began to feel the effects of heat exhaustion; dizzy, nauseous, and jittery. I had to quit before the job was done. Thank goodness for the dual air conditioners on our Keystone Laredo. We were going to need them for the hot summer ahead!

See next article … RV Life – Year One, Summertime Part 1.

I will rejoice in all seasons, praising the Creator’s handiwork. Ecclesiastes 3:11

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Steve Coryell