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October 2008

Wednesday, October 1 - Saturday, October 4:

Most of Wednesday was spent getting things put back into the RV that we’d removed to stay at Tina’s house.  Several loads of laundry were washed, so that had to be put away.  Items that we’d brought for the family were taken out of the RV and given to the girls.  We had many free gifts from the casinos that we had saved for them.  Tina and I also went through many books and sorted what she wanted to keep and what books I could take to use as trades.  I have a lot of books now that I can trade.  I’ll use them as trade at a couple of used book stores or as trade at some of the parks we stay at.

Midwest Casino Tour 2008
 
Thursday October 2:  Goodbyes have been said, kisses and hugs given, the RV is loaded and ready to pull out so away we went.  We left after lunch about 1:00.  We’re headed north to Dubuque Iowa.  Mac writes an article for the magazine Midwest Gaming and Travel so we’re going to check out some of the casinos in the Midwest. 
 
We stopped for the night at Wal-Mart store # 2004.  Mac went into the store and picked up a few items for dinner and breakfast.  We had plenty of time for our dinner before watching TV this evening.  We watched Survivor and the vice presidential debates. 
 
It’s gotten pretty chilly the past few days; I think it’s been in the mid 40’s at night.  We dug out our quilt from under the bed and have been using it the past few nights.  Brrr, it’s chilly! 
 
Friday afternoon Mac went to the Diamond Jo casino for a tour and to interview the public relations manager.  When he returned we moved the RV over to the Dubuque Greyhound Park and Casino.  For dinner this evening we went to the Diamond Jo casino and ate in their steakhouse called "HighSteaks".  Isn’t that an appropriate name for a steak house in a casino!  It was great food and we enjoyed our evening. 
 
Saturday, after a relaxing breakfast of coffee and bagels we decided to visit the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium.  It’s an interesting place to visit with fish, turtles, and other river life in aquariums.  There are also several exhibits about river boats and the industries that flourished by the river.  Very interesting aquariums of river fish including some rather large catfish.  I enjoyed the turtles in the exhibits, including one really big snapping turtle.  They have a snake exhibit that has some really large venomous snakes.  Mac just had to get up in the exhibit and get an up close look at the snakes.  There are also exhibits outside with buildings, boats, boat building, etc.  It’s a large interesting place to visit.
 
When we got back to the RV from visiting the museum we headed out and drove back down highway 61 to the quad-city area.  We stopped for the night at Wal-Mart store # 1241.  We arrived around 4:00 and both of us were tired so we both rested for a couple of hours.  Mac then went into Wal-Mart and picked up a few things and we had dinner in our RV.  By the time bedtime rolled around there are about 3 RVs parked here and a few 18 wheelers.

Sunday, October 5 - Saturday, October 11:

Sunday we drove over to the Isle of Capri Casino in Bettendorf, right on the Mississippi river, and parked in the large lot for RVs and trucks.  We stayed here through Tuesday night.  There is a paved sidewalk along the top of the levee.  We enjoy walking along and enjoying the views of the river and the suspension bridge over the river.  On one of our walks we saw a small animal along the edge of the river; we think it was a mink.  Minks are much smaller creatures than I had pictured them as being.  It was pretty cool to see one in the wild going in and out of the river.
 
Mac had a couple of casino interviews scheduled for here in the area including the Isle of Capri.  He’s been busy working at his day job, then touring the casinos, interviewing them about their features, rooms, games, etc.  He’s also been busy writing articles for the magazine and his weekly article at rv.net.  
 
Wednesday afternoon we drove to Joliet, IL and stayed at the Empress Casino for 2 nights in their very nice, large and attractive RV Park. 
 
Thursday afternoon Mac had a couple of interviews with various casinos in the area including the Empress Casino.  Thursday evening we had a buffet dinner at the Empress Casino and played a little in the casino.  After dinner we drove the car to Harrah’s Casino and played a little.  Then back home to watch TV the rest of the evening, have to watch our favorite show Survivor.  Lucky for us we can get both east and west coast TV on our DirecTV satellite system, so we were able to watch our show at the west coast time.
 
We’ve seen some deer along the edge of the woods while staying here.  It’s pretty awesome to walk outside and see deer about 20 yards away.  They watch us to see if we’ll be any danger to them while they eat the grass.  Pretty cool!
 
Friday we got everything ready to go and our water pump quit working.  Thankfully, there’s a Camping World about 25 miles away in Boilingbrook and they can fit us in today.  We drove over there and they looked at it and said it would only be about an hour to fix it so we went to the Golden Corral for lunch.  It actually took longer than an hour to get a new one installed; they put it on backwards and had to reinstall it.  But finally it was done and we could hit the road. 
 
We drove to Elkhart IN and stayed the night at RV Surplus and Salvage.  Mac had called and they’re open on Saturday 8 - 12 so we’re here and ready to shop when they open the doors in the morning.
 
Saturday morning we were ready with our list and shopped in the store.  We were very disappointed that they didn’t have any pairs of captain chairs that we liked.  Also some items on our list they were out of so we only bought a couple of items.  The store does have lots of stuff so if you’re in the area it is worth the effort to stop in and see if they have anything that you may need. 
 
After visiting the store we drove to Hammond Indiana.  We parked at the  Cabella’s store.  They have a large parking area for trucks and RVs.  They also have an outdoor kennel, a horse corral, dump station and fresh water.  Very nice service provided by the store for their customers.
 
We unhooked the car and went searching for a couple of thrift stores and a bookstore.  We had Googled the thrift stores and the two listed closest to us were not there any more.  Bummer!  I was really looking forward to shopping at a few thrift stores.  We had googled used books in the area and found Exchange-A-Book in Calumet City IL.  I think this book store has the most books I’ve ever seen in a used book store.  If you’re ever in the area and are looking for books I recommend this store.  They have a huge selection of books.  I did find several books that I’ve been looking for so now I have books to read.  I was very low on books.
 
After the book store we drove to Harrah’s Horseshoe Casino.  It’s right on Lake Michigan and it was fun to see the huge ships out on the lake.  We played for a while and one of the employees came around and talked with me about my visit to the casino.  She offered us free buffet dinner so of course I said yes to that.  It was a great buffet too.  Friday and Saturday is their seafood buffet so there was lots of seafood but they also had many other items to choose from.  We thoroughly enjoyed our dinner. 
 
After dinner we headed back to the RV.  We relaxed and I read one of my new books. 

Sunday, October 12 – Wednesday October 15:
 
Sunday we were just tired and stayed in the RV and rested.  We updated the blog and did other things that were not strenuous like taking a nap and reading a book. 
 
Monday after working a while and having lunch we headed out and headed east.  Traffic on I-94 was very slow; there is so much construction around especially the I-80 and I-65 area.  We finally got through though and drove to Michigan City Indiana.  We parked at the Blue Chip Casino

Mac has an interview scheduled this afternoon so while he did that I worked some more and read some of my book.  After he returned to the RV we had dinner in the casino at the steak house.  Mmm, good food and the portions were quite large.  We had lots to take home and save for dinner tomorrow.  We played some too but neither of us were winners this evening.
 
Tuesday, we had plenty of work to do so we worked until late afternoon.  We then ran some errands in town, such as stopping at the post office.  We did hit a couple of thrift stores too.  We stayed the night again at the casino.
 
Wednesday, after working till around noon we hit the road.  We stopped for gas and it was about $2.98.  Later in the day we saw gas at $2.58 and $2.61 at the Flying J.  We got on I-65 and headed south.  It rained quite a bit today but we soon drove out it and then it was breezy.  But overall our drive was fine and the trees were beautiful.  Many trees have turned such beautiful colors.  Truly, fall is in the air. 
 
We drove through Indianapolis and stopped at Wal-Mart #3435 in Greenwood IN.  This is a fairly new Wal-Mart and not yet listed on the Overnight RV Parking website, so Mac reported it to be added.  Mac went in to ask and parking is allowed here.  There aren’t really that many places where an RV can easily park.  Many of the rows have islands that are in the way.  I think there are only about 4-6 rows that don’t have islands at the end.  

Chris mentioned the Overnight RV Parking website.  This website is the creation of Jim O'Briant with the help of his members, like myself, who submit reports of parking locations throughout the USA.  I believe he has the most comprehensive list of Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, Cracker Barrel, Cabella's, etc. on the web.  Jim charges an annual subscription fee of $17.95; however, once you're a member if you participate and contribute information about parking locations Jim extends your subscription with each valid and useful input, so you may never have to pay again!

Thursday, October 16 – Sunday October 19:
 
Thursday morning we worked and then left Wal-Mart and drove to the Horseshoe Casino in Elizabeth Indiana.  We parked in the RV and truck parking area.  Nice big parking lot, the parking spots aren’t level but we didn’t need to use the jacks to level out.  It’s just a slight angle, not enough to bother with. 
 
It’s a long walk from the parking lot into the casino though.  We had to walk through the parking garage, take the elevator up to the hotel/casino level; walk a long ways including 2 moving sidewalks, then finally pass the food areas and get to the casino entrance.  I went in and played for a few hours and then Mac joined me for dinner at the Legend’s sports bar.  We shared a rack of ribs with fries and coleslaw.  Mmm, it was good food.  After playing and still not winning I finally went home to catch Survivor on TV.
 
On Friday after we worked into late afternoon we loaded up the car with some laundry and drove to New Albany and washed clothes.  Prices were $2.00 for double front loaders and 25 cents for 5 minutes for dryers.  Dinner tonight was from Rally’s.  I was looking forward to a spicy chicken sandwich but they messed up my order and gave me a chicken strips sandwich.  Since we’d already brought it home to the RV it was too far to drive back and get it corrected. 
 
Saturday, we left headed south on I-64 and I-65 to Nashville, TN.  From there we got on the Natchez Trace Parkway.  We drove south on the parkway and it is such a scenic drive.  There are many areas with pullouts to view and learn about items of interest along the parkway.  While driving down the parkway we saw wild turkeys several times.  Once we saw a group of at least a dozen turkeys near the road.  Thankfully, no one was behind us and we could slow down and admire the birds.  We also saw deer; several times we saw small groups of deer. 
 
We stopped for the night at the 32 site campground Meriwether Lewis.  We were fortunate and found a pull-through site; didn’t have to unhook the car.  We walked around a bit before it got too dark and saw more of the camping area.  We had dinner and called it an early night.  We had no phone service or internet here and for only one night we didn’t use the DataStorm either. 

Meriwether Lewis park at N35.521980  W87.454983 (our campsite location) is a great bargain – FREE for up to 14 nights.  There are 32 campsites available and at least a dozen of these are pull through.  We were lucky to find one and not have to unhook our toad, because many tent campers were using pull through sites.

Now don't send me any hate mail, we were tent campers once too, and yes they have as much right to those sites as an RVer, but you'll have to admit it's funny seeing a 60' pull through site occupied by a guy with a Jeep and a Pup Tent. 

Sunday morning we continued driving down the parkway seeing more turkeys and deer.  We stopped several times at various pullouts to admire the sites and scenery. 
 
We got off the parkway in Tupelo and drove over to Tombigbee State Park the same park we stayed in last October while here.  We got the same camp site also!  But this year the weather has been wonderful, sunny, not too warm or cold and especially no rain.

Monday, October 20 – Wednesday October 22:
 
Monday we got dressed and commuted to the office for our annual "no-pajamas at work day".  We had lunch with the crew which was fun.  After work we went to the Natchez trace parkway visitor center, looked at the information there and bought a pin for our collection.  In the evening we met up with Brenda and Keith for dinner at Harvey’s restaurant.  Good food and good company.
 
Tuesday after working a few hours we packed up and headed out.  We stopped for gas then hooked the car up.  Drove down the parkway to highway 82 to I-55.  Drove to Jackson and got on I-20.  Drove to Bossier City and stopped for the night at the Horseshoe Casino.  I drove most of the way and Mac worked on the internet and navigated.  We had dinner at the buffet and it was great, very tasty food.  Played for a few hours and enjoyed ourselves but again no winners tonight.

Wednesday we headed out around noon.  Drove to Livingston, no problems.  I drove all the way as Mac worked at the "day job" as he calls it.  This evening it started raining, as usual when we come here.  The park is full!  We are parked in a different section than we usually park in.  I visited with my mom, and Mac and I started working on some chores.  It's going to be an early night tonight, I'm heading to bed before 10:00.

Chris has been doing a great job of keeping notes for the blog.  She's more organized than me, and makes notes almost every day.  Then, every few days, she adds to the basic notes and sends them to me so I can post her comments.  That's when I write a few of my own.  This system works pretty good, although we're usually a few days to a week behind posting.  We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoy writing it.

How about these gas prices!  WOW.  It looks like they'll continue to come down and there's a chance we'll see $2/gal gas before the end of the year.  I think it's a great boost for the economy, but you don't hear that talked about much.  Lower cost oil, diesel, and gas has to be reducing production and shipping costs.  I know we're enjoying it as we travel back towards Florida for the winter.

Thursday, October 23 - Friday, October 31
 
Since we arrived here yesterday I was able to go with my mom on her doctor visit this morning.  I got to talk with the doctor and helped get my mom set up with some physical therapy so that she can get stronger.  She’s been in a lot of pain from her knees and the therapy will help her I’m sure. 
 
After visiting the doctor’s office we ran other errands for her and then had lunch at the City Grill. 
 
Friday, October 24:
 
After working today Mac and I loaded up the car with laundry.  We had plenty of our own to do plus a lot of big items of my moms to wash.  What a lot of work that was!  But we finally got it all done and went home to shower and rest for the evening.

I can't imagine what it must be like for people with huge families, 8 or 10 kids.  We let the laundry go for a week or two and we're in for a half dozen double front loaders.  I think for this trip with MIL's stuff too we had 3 double-loaders, 1 triple-loader, and 6 or 7 standard commercial front loaders.  We used at least 10 dryers, maybe a dozen.  Cost?  I didn't keep track, but I estimate it was about $35.  Maybe those people with the washer/dryer in the RV are on to something?  Although, as much as we dry camp we'd only get to use it about 1/2 the time, and then we'd still need to go to the laundry for bedding.

Saturday, October 25:
 
We’ve worked on chores daily for my mom, and today we did a lot of work on the honey do list.  We’re just about done with them too for this trip.  This evening we took my mom out to eat at Shrimp Boat Manny’s.  Mom and I had fried shrimp and Mac had catfish, good food. 
 
Sunday, October 26:
 
Got everything packed away, dumped the tanks and filled with fresh water.  We drove over and said goodbye to my mom.  Then we hooked up the car and left Livingston.  We drove down to Beaumont and got on I-10 and drove to the Hollywood Casino in Bay St. Louis MS.  We have coupons for free buffets and free play so we had the buffet for dinner and it was delicious too.  We played for a while and I got to leave a casino with some money in my pocket.  It’s been a while since that happened.  I played some quarter, 50 cent and even dollar level video poker and managed to leave with $1,000 profit in my pocket.  Yea! That was nice.
 
Monday, October 27:
 
We had 2 more free buffets for lunch today at the Hollywood.  Then after our work was done we drove over to the Imperial Palace in Biloxi and parked the RV.  There are several other RVs parked here also.  Seems many know of the great deal to park here for free. 
 
There was a lot of gusty wind today so I’m glad that we’re not going farther than we are.  I really hate driving in strong winds.  There’s a cold spell on the way and this is a north wind blowing it in.  Brr, it’s supposed to be pretty cold the next few days with low’s in the 40’s, even down in Tampa it’s going to be a chilly night.
 
We drove down highway 90 and admired the view of the water.  They’re still working on this road!  I was surprised that it’s taking so long too.  They were working on this road in the spring when we were here and they’re still working on it now.  I guess there’s a lot of work to be done with putting in new curbing, road, paving, maybe even new drainage.  It sure seems to be taking a long time though.
 
This evening we went to the Grand Casino in Biloxi and played earning 10 times points.  We didn’t win but I don’t think we lost very much either.
 
Tuesday, October 28:
 
Today after work we drove to the Beau Rivage Casino and played our free play.  We ate at Memphis Q restaurant sharing a rack of their wonderful ribs.  These ribs are so tasty and tender.  Even sharing a rack of ribs we still had enough to take home for lunch tomorrow. 
 
After dinner we walked over to the Hard Rock Casino and looked at the various memorable they have there.  We walked back to the Beau, got our car and drove back to the RV. 
 
Wednesday, October 29:
 
We drove to Gulfport and shopped at the Outlets located there close to highway 49.  Mac found himself a nice lightweight jacket.  He’s so hard to fit but this jacket fit him nicely and will hopefully last for quite a while.  He also found some shorts and a few shirts at a store going out of business.  I found a Coach purse that I fell in love with and the price was so great with the discounts that we bought one.  I saw another one that I loved too but one is enough at this time.  Anyway, where would I put a lot of purses in a RV?  I already have 2 or 3 purses and this new purse now makes 4, plus a couple of fanny packs.  I don’t need any more purses.  I have to keep telling myself that!
 
Later in the afternoon we drove out to the location where my mom had asked us to scatter my dad’s ashes.  Mac and I said a few words and then scattered the ashes.  My dad always wanted to come back to Mississippi, he considered it home after living here 40 years, so we brought him home. 
 
When we returned to Biloxi we had dinner at the High Tide Café located at the Imperial Palace Casino.  We played a short time there and then drove to the Grand Casino once again earning 10 times points. 
 
Thursday, October 30:
 
After working some this morning we loaded up and drove to Pensacola FL.  We’re at the RV Park at the Naval Air Station here.  It’s so pretty here, the water is beautiful.  We’re very close to the beach; we can see some of it out the window of the RV. 
 
For some reason we’re both very tired this afternoon, maybe it’s all this fresh seashore air.  We both took a short nap after arriving here this afternoon.  Mac drove over and got the “stickers” for both our vehicles.  Since our official address is in Pensacola we are supposed to have our vehicles registered at the Navy base here to get on the Navy bases elsewhere. 
 
Tonight is our TV night so we spent the evening watching our favorite TV shows, Survivor, CSI Las Vegas and the last season of ER. 
 
Friday, October 31:
 
We decided to stay another day at the RV Park so that we can explore a little.  But first some work must be done at the day job.  After work we drove over and picked up our mail.  We had our absentee ballots so we both exercised our rights as citizens and voted today.  We then drove over to the Board of Elections and hand delivered our ballots. 

We also had a few other chores to do but finally we got to go explore the beach here.  We took a nice long walk on the beach and had fun playing with a few crabs.  We saw several places today that we’d like to visit when we have more time.  We have to leave tomorrow but we definitely like the area and plan on returning here again.

Photo on the left is a little fiddler crab.  Of course I picked him up for a closer look and got pinched good!  Photo at right is a lighthouse at NAS Pensacola taken from the beach.  We plan to do more exploring here when we return next year.

Here are some additional photos

Here's our camping expense report, the stats below for each year are as of the end of October.  As you can see, this year we're slightly higher than 2007 for Avg $ per Night, but we're much lower for Avg $ per paid night.  This year, because of our extended stay in the dry camp at Nellis AFB in Las Vegas, we had fewer free nights than before, but we also did more dry camping than ever.  Interesting.  I know where we're staying most of November and December, so unfortunately we will have a higher average cost per night this year. :-(  

Year to Date Avg $ per Nite Avg $ per Paid Nite # Dry # Elect # FHU # Free %Dry % Free
2008 $8.06 $11.71 198 9 98 95 65% 31%
2007 $7.92 $12.56 181 21 101 112 60% 37%
2006 8.26 15.69 149 27 124 142 50% 47%
2005 8.42 12.58 184 17 104 113 60% 37%

Continue to November

What did we do in October of years past?  Take a look at:

October 2007

October 2006

October 2005

October 2004

 

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