EDIT 12/27: Was not hit by the tornados last night, thanks for thinking of me!
Thursday, December 24
Last post, Brian guessed correctly where I was heading: Lake Tawakoni State Park, east of Dallas. Why east when I want to go to Arizona? Because I still have that appointment at Little House Customs on the 28th to take care of first.
The day dawns bright and clear as I prepare Cas and Bertha for the drive ahead. For me, getting ready to go on a long trip involves not just securing belongings, dumping tanks, and hitching up, but also cleaning. I’d rather take care of it now so when I’m traveling I can spend more time enjoying where I am.
I scrub the toilet and sink and fill the black tank a second time just with water before dumping again to ensure it’s truly empty. I put a little bit of bleach in my fresh water tank when I fill it up to sanitize it since I haven’t used it in several months, I’ll empty the fresh tank completely into my gray tank before leaving Tawakoni and dump and re-fill the fresh tank with pure water.
All of the dishes get cleaned, the blinds get dusted, counters are washed, the floor is swept, and the welcome mat beat thoroughly to get all of the dust out of it. I use the brush of a small dustpan to get the dirt off my wheel chocks and tire covers before putting them away and use a paper towel to get the lose dirt from the water hose and power cord off.
I use to think I must be extraordinarily slow to require two hours to leave one camp for the next, but that’s before I realized I’m only slow because I insist on doing all of this cleaning stuff before I go. The actual hitching up process I can complete in 30 minutes if I needed to move in a hurry.
It being Christmas Eve, I risk the most direct route from Boyd to Lake Tawakoni, through the north part of Dallas thinking the traffic won’t be as bad as usual.
It’s pretty bad. But who knows, maybe it’s even worse at 1pm on a regular Thursday, I don’t have much experience to draw on. After several slow downs due to congestion and one stop due to an accident, I’m thrilled to see the big buildings become smaller buildings become rolling forested hills with the occasional house. Cas has successfully made it through another metropolis.
I made the reservation for Lake Tawakoni about two weeks ago, at that time the lady I spoke to over the phone said someone would be at the window today to collect my money for the second night here (you have to pay the first night up front when you reserve), but I’m not surprised to find the window closed for the holidays when I arrive. With no map and no assigned site, I turn Bertha down White Deer Reach camping loop and hope for the best.
This is the water and 30 amp loop, the cheapest option at $20 a night which is what I paid for. Only six or seven of the 46 sites are taken, and it’s a delight to discover a waterfront site open! Waterfront camping on Christmas Eve, 75 degrees out with a light breeze, this’ll be a perfect place to unwind from Amazon. Even better, the site is long and level enough that I don’t even have to unhitch.
But without a map, I don’t know that this is my best option. I start walking up the road to scope out the rest of the loop when the park hosts drive by in a green truck and volunteer uniforms that look very familiar. They tell me I can wait to pay the rest of my fee until Saturday morning when I leave and have a map of the park on hand, how serendipitous. I can see now that site 17 is right on the tip of a point jutting out into the lake and will indeed have the best water view.
We talk a little about South Dakota (they saw my plates and lived there for a year) and about park hosting and Texas. We also talk about the storm coming this weekend.
I’ve been keeping an eagle eye on the forecast which keeps changing, sometimes looking better and sometimes looking worse. I think the meteorologists aren’t quite sure what’s going to happen yet and with luck it won’t end up being as bad as all this.
This part of Texas is under a flood watch with the potential for strong thunderstorms, and northwestern Texas and New Mexico are under a winter storm watch, which could make traveling to AZ all but impossible with significant snow accumulations and lows dropping into the teens after the front passes.
But for today and tomorrow, it’s sun and 70’s. I walk up to the beach and boat ramp and take in the view.
Then I meander over to the “premium” camping loop. The Christmas lights strung up around RVs and matching music coming from radios makes me smile, but it’s definitely noisier and more crowded in this loop and I’m happy to be where I’m at.
I set up my camp chair and watch the sun set. Without any clouds it’s not very showy, but still nice. The horizon turns golden as the sun slips from view and fades to a rusty orange. Across the water, a full moon rises as birdsong is replaced by an evening chorus of insects chirping. Small waves from boats farther out in open water lap at the shore and the occasional splash or call announces the presence of life out on the lake.
The smell of campfire smoke drifts by, dogs bark, the radio from the next loop over is still audible if I listen hard enough, and there are the small sounds of car doors closing, murmurs of voices, and the occasional firework in the distance. It’s a good evening to be alive.
Back in the RV after sunset, it finally occurs to me that I’ve been getting an occasional whiff of an acrid smell since I arrived, and it’s getting stronger. I know I’ve smelled this odor before but I can’t quite place it. I’m quite worried one of my electronics is shorting out or something, so I go around the RV sniffing at my computer, surge protector, converter, microwave, it’s hard to trace. When I lean out the RV the wind is picking up over the lake and I don’t smell it, but then on a whim I sniff the vent for my fridge and the odor is very strong.
The fridge. It’s the fridge, that can’t be good. Should I turn it off? Switch it over to propane… or would that make it worse? Is it going to explode or catch on fire? I hop online to the good ol’ Casita Forums to the Appliances section and on the first page is a post titled “Ammonia smell coming from fridge?” A lightbulb goes on in my head, that’s what the smell is!
In short, the ammonia coolant is leaking from my fridge. It’s not something that’s repairable and I’m going to need either a new cooling unit for the back of the fridge or I could replace the whole fridge. The good news is the leak is not dangerous aside from the nasty fumes and I can continue using it, the fridge will just get less effective as more ammonia leaks out. I send an e-mail off to Larry at Little House Customs to inform him of the problem (how lucky I was heading there anyway!) and flip the switch on my Fantastic Fan so that it’s blowing air into the Casita instead of out of it, that should build positive pressure inside that will keep the ammonia fumes from coming in from the vent.
Friday, December 25
I have Christmas cookies and cherry Pepsi for breakfast. It’s fantastic. The morning is spent catching up on two TV shows that I’ve fallen behind on since Amazon, sitting in my camp chair watching the lake, and generally being a slug and trying out this “relaxing” thing.
After lunch, I head out on Spring Point Trail, which as the name might suggest follows the shore of the lake on a point.
The flooding is fascinating. It reminds a little of Hunting Island back in South Carolina, where shifting currents are causing the ocean to swallow the forest. Here it’s not as dramatic, but more impressive in a way because this wasn’t caused by tides and currents but sheer rainfall.
One can see where the high water mark was, and where it’s receded since then, sometimes eroding the ground away into a beach that looks like a tidal beach.
I wonder how the ground could have eroded so much and then a boat zips by and the waves lap against the shore and it makes sense.
There are more people out here today than yesterday, day visitors for the most part enjoying the above average temperatures and time off from school and work.
The trail is sort of a figure eight with two loops, but it relatively short at 1.1 miles. Parts of it are still quite soggy and in a couple places it has eroded into the lake.
On the way back to camp, I walk past the amphitheater and see there is a Christmas tree set up!
Other spots in the park have decorations up too. It’s quite amusing to see snowmen when I’m in capris and flip flops.
Clouds start rolling in later in the afternoon, the heralds of tomorrow’s rain. The Marie Calendar chicken pot pie I saved for Christmas dinner is delicious and so far the fridge and freezer are working normally. I’m making a point of eating as much of my frozen food as I can, since I can save the fridge food with a cooler if it becomes necessary but I can’t do the same for the freezer food.
I spend a good chunk of the evening reading my Kindle, speak with family and friends over the phone, and sleep with all the blinds open so I’ll wake up to a view tomorrow.
Saturday, December 26
The humidity skyrockets overnight and the temperature hardly drops at all, making for a muggy morning. Low, fast moving clouds bring wind, but it’s only sprinkles so far for precipitation. I walk up to the front office and register for my spot, I’ll be staying here until as close to checkout time at 2 pm as I can and taking advantage of the electricity to write and put this post up. Tonight and tomorrow night will be dry camping nights at truck stops or Walmarts, assuming the weather doesn’t force me to something else, the next real stop will be Little House Customs.
Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!
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