Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The "Mini Effect"

One of the main reasons I traded the camper in for the Mini (besides the camper almost falling apart) was that I wanted to have the ability to detach the pickup from the Mini and be able to go places around my campsite.

The Mini squeezing under a large oak tree.
While it's true I could have always arranged everything within the camper for travel mode and pack in the grill and my camp chair for travel, the hassle involved in doing so more often than not caused me to justify not going in the first place and staying put.  Now, with the Mini I usually unhook the Silverado from it as soon as I set up my campsite, giving me a clear and free road vehicle to explore my surroundings to a much greater extent.

Recently, while camping at a Corps of Engineers campsite in northeastern Oklahoma (I'll do a Campground Review on it next post) the Camp Host highly recommended a restaurant a few miles down the road that specialized in fried catfish, one of my all-time favorite seafood dinners.  Leaving the Mini at my campsite I made a beeline to Shad's Catfish Hole in the pickup.

Open at 4:30 when I got there at 4:45 the parking lot was almost full.
It was an all-you-can-eat catfish deal....I managed 5 fillets!

That huge baked potato probably limited me to 5 fillets!
I can't tell you what a luxury it is to have an unencumbered ground vehicle to roam around in!  Oh, and the Silverado gets way better mileage when not pulling or carrying a RV.  I'm really looking forward to getting out and exploring more!

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Campground Review: Table Rock State Park Branson, MO

When I headed into southern Missouri I originally planned on staying at the Escapee's Turkey Creek Village campground in Branson.  They always had space for me in the past so I didn't bother calling ahead for a reservation.  The campground there is on Turtle Creek which is normally a placid body of water, key word in this sentence is "normally", because southern Missouri had been undergoing severe flooding and Turtle Creek was no exception.  As I pulled up to the Escapee's driveway there was a chain stretched across the driveway and it was evident the permanent residents had evacuated the Village which was a good thing as half the campsites were under water.  In the four years I've been full-timing one thing I've learned is to stay flexible, so I searched Google Maps for "state park near me" and luckily Table Rock State Park was only five miles from the Escapee Village, so I drove there.

The trail head for one of the two main trails at the park.
I've always been impressed with the quality of Missouri's state parks and Table Rock didn't disappoint me.  Here's the park's data sheet:

Hookups:                                             30 & 50 amp, water sewer                                         
Fire ring:                                              Yes                                                                 
Water Access:                                     Yes                                                     
Fresh Water:                                        Yes                                         
Trash Service:                                      Yes                                         
Toilets:                                                Yes                                         
Showers:                                             Yes                                                     
Dump station:                                      Yes                                         
WiFi:                                                   Yes                                         
Level sites:                                          Yes                                         
Laundry:                                              Yes                                                                 
Store:                                                   No                                                                              
Pool:                                                    No                                                      
Shade:                                                 Yes                                                                 
Verizon reception:                               4G, 3 bars                                                       
Internet reception:                               3 of 4 bars                                          
Cost:                                                $18 per night

Typical Table Rock campsite with a water view.
The rains had finally moved on during the last couple days of my 3 day stay at Table Rock so I got a chance to deploy the Mini's awning for the first time.

I'm actually using the gas grill in the picture more than I thought I would.
Along with campsites there was a rent-able Yurt for the campers who come to Table Rock sans RV.

Nice deck!  Would have been interesting to see inside.
The park even has it's own outdoor amphitheater where rangers give nature talks (among other things).

Shakespeare under the stars, anyone? 
  Anytime I can stay at full-service state parks for under $20 a night I'm more than happy!  Table Rock State Park represents some real value for what you get (I even did a load of laundry for $3.50 wash/dry!) and is another really nice member of the Missouri State Park system.  If you were visiting Branson for all the entertainment venues consider camping at Table Rock State Park as a low-cost lodging alternative.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Inside the Mini

Still camping my way down to Arlington, TX, I just got through three days of torrential downpours in Southern Missouri.  Waiting for the rain to end I got a chance to take some pictures of the inside of the new Mini:

The queen bed is at the front of the trailer.
The bath with shower and sink toilet is lower left.
The couch with table that folds down for transport and fits behind the couch.
HD TV and stereo radio/DVD player with 4 surround speakers in the ceiling.
My much larger fridge with separate freezer compartment.
The kitchen with a microwave I hadn't had for 3 and a half years.
So far I'm really enjoying all the extras compared to the camper, including the extra square footage!

Thanks for reading!