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Wednesday, October 21, 2015


I'm happy to report we're alive and well and have surfaced in West Memphis, Arkansas. We arrived here last Friday after a good trip from Branson. Our last three days in Branson were kind of busy where we went to the see the Great Passion Play in Eureka Springs, Ar, The Lettermen show at the Andy Williams Theatre, and the Pressley Country Jamboree. We had a great 10 days in Branson, but we were beginning to get "hitch itch", so we were ready to move to our next destination which brings us to where we are now, Tom Sawyer Campground in W. Memphis, Ar, which is right across the river and state line from Memphis, Tn. This campground is well known among RVer's and is very popular due to it being right on the riverfront. This is one of those campgrounds where one can be perfectly content to just stay in the park and do nothing. We've enjoyed the beauty and majesty of the mighty Mississippi since being here and don't have any major plans to do much else until we pull out Saturday. There is no shortage of activity on the river with countless barges being pushed by tugboats up and down the river as well as an occasional paddle wheeler. The campground has installed benches on the rivers edge and has been a popular spot for us. There have been several floods here at the campground, which is hard to imagine because the water level is at least 15 feet below the top of the bank. In fact, the last flood was so high they've erected a sign on the bath house showing the high water mark, some 12 feet above the campground  level, which would make it almost 30 feet higher than what it is now.
             Monday, we went out to dinner at Corky's Barbecue in Memphis that was recently featured on the Travel Channel. We thought we'd see how it stacked up against the "cue" back home in Shelby. Crickett had their chicken and I had their barbecue pork dinner. Let me be fair and say it was good, but to me it was not what I was expecting. The smoked flavor came through, but the meat was coarse and stringy, nothing like our cue back home. I'd give it a 6 on a 10 scale. Crickett said she wasn't blown away by their yard bird either, and she knows her chicken! A worthwhile experience, but in no hurry to go back. We've heard a lot of talk here in the park about Rendezvous Barbecue and may go check it out before we leave.  
         The plan right now is to leave here Saturday and possibly stop in Nashville for a few days and then stop a few days in Pigeon Forge before heading home. We've sure missed our family and friends and looking forward to seeing them all soon. 

Entrance into Tom Sawyer RV Park. Check out the young Tom Sawyer silhouette on the right gate.
Sign on the highway showing where to turn into the park.
Our first site, 99 right on the river for 3 nights.  We've had to move 2 more times to be able to stay here, but is worth it.

High water mark on bath house. One unusual feature of this park is the washers and dryers are free to their guests. Only park I've ever seen that at. Most get $2/ load to wash and $1/dry. We've got a washer/dryer in the rig so we don't have to worry about it.
One of many benches the park has installed on the river's edge. It's about 15 feet down the bank to the water.

I caught this paddle wheeler going down the river. I darkened the corners and softened the edges trying to make it look like an old photo.

Bet most of you folks out there in Blogger Land have never seen the sun rise on the Mississippi, so here's how it looks!

I took this shot to show the proximity of the campsites to the river. The riverfront sites are $40/night and the second row back, where we are now,  are $32/night. The river front sites have a large concrete pad whereas the second row is gravel.

If you look slightly left and above center, you can see what looks to be silos, which is actually a facility where they load grain onto the barges. Close ups of that operation will follow.

For those of you who don't recognize our back side, this is Crickett and I.  It don't take a whole lot to make us happy.  It don't get much better than this!

Pretty good sized tugboat pushing barges down the river.

This shot and the next two are panoramic shots I took while playing with the camera.

Panoramic view of our section of the campground. There are three sections in all.

The banks below the campground have been covered in rocks to help control erosion.

These shots were at full zoom. This facility loads grain onto barges. Notice how low this barge is sitting in the water at the rear, which is where the soybeans are loaded first. You can see  dust coming from the front doors  of the barge as its' being loaded.

Here, the barge is almost full and is sitting level in the water. Now, notice the difference of the height of the barge being loaded and the one in front of it. The one in front is empty and therefore sits much higher in the water. At the present river level they are loading the barges where they are drafting 10 1/2 feet, which means there is 10 1/2 feet below the water! Each barge is 195' long, 60' wide and 14' deep. They're loading 60,000 bushels of grain on each barge. Once loaded, they will be joined with as many as 30 other barges to form what is called a tow, where they will be pushed down the river to the gulf, where they will be shipped to markets overseas.  To me, it's an incredible feat for the tugs to be able to push and steer this mass, especially considering they are drafting 10 1/2 feet of water. They told me they load the barges to draft 12 feet when the river level is higher.

Two tows and tugs going in opposite directions.

 Close up of front of the tow. The flag is for the captain of the tug to be able to see where the front of the tow is. The bridge of the tug sits well above the barges, but is some 1200 feet, or almost 1/4 mile from the front.

These tugs are powered by multiple diesel engines. Some have as much as 11,000 horsepower. Check out the Memphis skyline in the background. The bridge you can see is the one on I-55 over the Mississippi.

1 comment:

  1. We have stayed at Tom Sawyer several times and always enjoy it. Thanks for reminding me of a good experience!