2019 – Belle Starr CoE – Lake Eufaula, OK


Belle Starr CoE is another great Corps of Engineers campground. It is located on Lake Eufaula in beautiful eastern Oklahoma, about 10 miles south of I40, just off of Highway 69. This campground has a lot going for it. Most of the campsites offer a lake view, in fact, a many of the sites are along the lake. We were in a section of good pull throughs that are long enough for any rig, and right along the lake. These sites are quite popular, so it might be a challenge to just arrive and snag one of them. There are also several spots that would be ideal for smaller rigs, each right on the water.

The soil is sandy here, so there are plenty of sandy beach areas. The sand, though, is also a negative for the campground due to considerable erosion caused by flooding over the past few years.

None of the campsites have a sewer connection. Many are water and electric, although not all have water. The section we were in had 50 amp electric service. While most of the sites seemed reasonably level, I noticed that a few were obviously sloping toward the lake. I had to do some leveling back to front, but, in general, our site was quite good. In fact, I’d say that this may have been our prettiest campsite of the year.

Our Verizon signal was good and, since aiming at the satellite was out over the lake, there was no problem seeing the satellites.

This is an outstanding campground for those traveling north and south on Highway 69 or east and west on I 40.

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2019 – Beagle Bay RV Park – Sarcoxie, MO


We were invited to serve as speakers for a series of services at Mt Vernon, MO Church of the Nazarene and this RV park is right down I44 from the church. First, I’ll tell you the good things about this campground. It is very convenient to the interstate. The sites are all pull-through, full hookup, and (I think) all 50 amp. The roads and sites are pretty good gravel surface. Most sites are reasonably level. There’s a pool that appears to be maintained, although it was unused during our October stay. There’s a laundry that seems to get plenty of use. I had a clear view of the sky for the eastern Dish satellites although the shady sites would likely make it difficult if not impossible to get satellite TV from many of the sites. Our Verizon signal was solid. One unique feature of the campground is that nearly every site has porch swings installed.

The close proximity to the interstate is both a good and a bad thing. The sound of traffic never ceases. After a while you tend to tune it out, but, of course, the closer you are to the front of the campground the louder it is. It appeared to me that overnight guests were generally put in sites that put the main building between them and the interstate – a wise move. The campground, in general, just feels tired. I saw a worker painting and, honestly, there’s a lot of painting needed. The bathrooms were clean enough but had a funky smell – a mixture of old plus musty.

Several sites are occupied by longer term residents – mostly working people who get up every morning and return in the evenings. Their campsites are generally orderly and we had no negative impression of them at all. The campground workers were friendly and helpful.

Most travelers stop off just for an overnight and this campground is quite suitable for that: right on the interstate, pull through sites, easy in and out. This is far from our favorite campground, but we’d stay at it again without any hesitation.

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2019 – Shortstop: 2019 – Stanton-Meramec KOA Journey, MO


The Stanton-Meramec KOA in Stanton, MO makes no claims of being a destination campground. It is just a minute or two off of I 44, a handy place for travelers who just want a FHU spot for the night before continuing their trip on the Interstate. There’s a store with restaurant, a pool, and a doggie park. Also, Meramec Caverns is nearby. The camp area is “T” shaped with the main section being a row of pull through sites set up for bigger rigs. The other section is set up for smaller rigs or tents. Also there are several rental cabins scattered around.

As I said, this isn’t a destination campground. On one hand I’d say it serves it’s purpose. However, there are a few negatives. First, the campground is, in my opinion, overpriced for what you get. Second, the sites are very close together side to side. Third, the sites have a slight slope front to back, making it hard to level a motorhome like ours.

We had a good Verizon signal and no problem getting satellite TV.

Having said all that, for this trip, this KOA was in the right spot for us to break up a longer move. Had it not been for that we would have stayed elsewhere, but being so close to the interstate and at the half-way point for this relocation this campground suited our needs just fine.

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2019 – Bo Wood CoE – Sullivan, IL


We wanted a nice campground near Decatur, IL and, even though this one was a bit farther than we wanted, we couldn’t have been much happier with a campground than we were with Bo Wood CoE Campground at Sullivan, IL. We often tell people that Corps of Engineers campgrounds are our favorites and this one is a great example of why we say that. The sites are very large, level, and spacious. In fact, I’d say that the theme of this Shelbyville Lake campground is “big.” There are actually multiple campgrounds on the property that vary in amenities from electric only, to water-electric, to full hookup. While a few sites in the “older” section offer a lake view, most are either in the woods or in open areas away from the lake. The large “new” section has many FHU sites, including several huge pull through sites. The property also has a boat ramp and two fenced in dog play areas.

I think you could have parked four motorhomes the size of ours on our back in site. In the mornings we had more sunshine than we wanted, but by late afternoon we were in the shade. If we had any complaint about our campsite it was the big oak tree that dropped acorns on us from time to time. Judging from the ground cover, we actually missed the worst of the bombardment.

My Verizon signal was pretty good and I was able to get satellite TV without much trouble. No doubt it would be nigh on to impossible in many of the more wooded areas of the campground.

Bo Wood is off the beaten track far enough that it is off the radar of people just passing through the area. It is easy to see, though, why this is a popular spot for the locals!

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2019 – Horseshoe Lakes Thousand Trails, Clinton, IN


This is our third stay at Horseshoe Lakes Thousand Trails, near Clinton, Indiana. This is a good spot for a quiet stay. If you like fishing, though, it’s a destination campground with several lakes of varying sizes. We’ve seen folks out trying their luck every day that we’ve been here. One lady told me that they had enjoyed a fish dinner made up of fresh caught fish from that day. It appears that there are fish to be caught at Horseshoe Lakes!

Other reviews are here

Since I’ve reviewed this campground recently, there’s no need for me to do much of a repeat review. Here are a few new photos of this western Indiana campground.

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2019 – Sightseeing Western Indiana – Eastern Illinois


I was really looking forward to visiting with my brother Jim and sis-in-law Phyllis during our stay in western Indiana, but we also got in a couple of fun sightseeing adventures – one in Illinois and the other in Indiana.

We went the Vermilion River Fall Festival in Danville, IL. There were many fall oriented handcrafted items along with a variety of food booths. I think this is the third time this year that we stumbled on to a great car show with many nice older cars and trucks. My favorite was a 1912 Ford car that looks like one in a picture I have of my Dad as a small child in 1914.

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Our most enjoyable sightseeing excursion was a visit to Turkey Run State Park near Marshall, Indiana. We have both enjoyed hiking across the years and decided to visit this popular state park. We took a short hike down steps, across a suspension bridge over Sugar Creek and down to Rocky Hollow to see a small waterfall. The water has carved the rocks and it is fun to walk along the bottom of the gorge by the stream. We took a break there in that pretty spot and had a picnic lunch. From there we turned around and came back, because I couldn’t scramble up the first set of rock “steps” without help; and that was the easy part! We walked back to the suspension bridge and followed a different trail that took us through the woods on what I expected to be an easier trail to a covered bridge built in the early 1900’s and across the creek heading back to the nature center. We encountered many steps and scrambles going up hill and down. Some were man made and had rails but several were natural and more difficult for me. However we made it and I am glad we took day to enjoy the beauty of nature.

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2019 – Kenisee Lake Thousand Trails, Jefferson, OH

A bit of creative photography overlooking Kenisee Lake

Our stay here this year has been the longest stop of our 2019 Adventure. We were ready to slow down, do a few small projects, and get ready for our slow move back to Texas. The very fact that we planned on a longer stay at Kenisee is a clue as to how much we like this campground.

This is our third stay at Kenisee Lake Thousand Trails in Jefferson, OH. Since I reviewed the campground after both previous stays so I’ll just post some new photos and pretty much let that be my review.

The previous reviews are: 20132018

This stay, we have been in one of the big pull-throughs in the rear of the campground. These sites are long enough for the biggest of rigs and easy to get and and out of. We like the size of the sites, and at times we like being a bit isolated from the activity in the rest of the campground. We think it is both good and bad that these sites are quite a ways from the Activity Center, pool, and bath houses.

The last time we were at Kenisee we had lots of rain and our site sometimes felt a bit like an island surrounded by water. This stay we have had good weather most of the time. When it did rain, we noticed that the same sites we were in last time got muddy but work that has been done cleaning out drainage ditches behind them has made a difference. Overall, we have enjoyed the cool temps and sunny days.

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2019 – Sightseeing Along Lake Erie in N.E. Ohio


Our stay in northeastern Ohio was a longer stay for us and that gave us plenty of time to explore the area.

We never get our fill of waterfalls so even though we hiked Watkins Glen and then visited Niagara Falls over the past few weeks, we took a day trip and visited a couple more waterfalls near Cleveland OH. Chagrin Falls, just south of Cleveland is located in the town of Chagrin. There are cute shops and restaurants around it. It is obviously a destination for people wanting to get out of the big city and although not overwhelming the falls are pretty and a nice place to eat lunch or just hang out. From there we drove through the country and arrived at the Brandywine Falls in beautiful Cayahoga Valley National Park. The falls have hiking and biking trails. We walked down a boardwalk for a great view of the falls. It is beautiful and well worth the effort to get down there and back. There is also an overlook for people who cannot or choose to not take the stairs.

On the Saturday before Labor Day We drove to Geneva-On-The-Lake and found it very busy due to a variety of events happening that day. We especially enjoyed a big Volkswagen car show in the city park which was filled with VWs and camper vans from across the years. Afterward, we enjoyed sitting on a bench and listening to the waves of Lake Erie for a while.

We went to Cleveland to visit the Historic William G. Matthew steam ship but found that it was only open on weekends after Labor Day. The ship is adjacent to the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame and since we were already there so we thought we would check it out. Honestly, since we aren’t fans of current popular music our expectations weren’t very high but there was more of interest to us than we expected. We spent most of our time in the sections of the museum that focus on the early days of rock and roll music. We heard lots of music and watched clips of singers from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. We saw photos, costumes and other memorabilia from many singers and groups. It was interesting seeing displays of groups like The Beach Boys, the Beatles, and the Temptations. Other singers included Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Aretha Franklin, Johnny Cash and many more. We were able to walk through the tour bus that was built for Johnny and June Cash and their son. Interesting and sobering to us was the way the music changed to darker, angry, themes as time passed.

There is a historically unique restaurant near our campground: Covered Bridge Pizza in North Kingsville. The dining area is inside a covered bridge. The bridge was originally the Foreman Road Bridge built in 1862. In 1972 the county decided to replace it and the old bridge was sold for five dollars! It was carefully dismantled and placed in storage. In 1975 half of the old bridge was used to open the restaurant we visited and in 1977 a second location was opened using the other half of the bridge. There are a variety of items on the menu but we were there for pizza. The crust is made fresh daily and the spicy sauce along with the meat and cheese made an excellent lunch.

On a clear sunny day we took a picnic and visited a few of the many parks along Lake Erie. It was fun seeing the various parks. One was small with few picnic tables and small playground. Another had a large covered area with tables and a concession with boardwalks down to the beach. Yet another had a covered area with tables and several porch type swings with the beach area adjacent to it. We had a pleasant lunch by carrying our lunch and chairs down close to the water. A nice quiet way to spend a few hours.

When we saw advertising about a balloon glow not far from our campground we decided to go. There were eight of the giant hot air balloons that were beautiful when lit up. There were a lot of people there enjoying the display. The business, Debonné, hosts a full scale hot air balloon festival in the spring, it must be amazing to see.

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Using a Home Style Dish

Here are a few things I’ve learned about satellite TV, specifically, about using Dish Network with a home style dish as we travel.

Here’s a bit of background: we started off using an automatic dish. When it worked it was pretty good. When it didn’t work it was a real pain with no feedback as to why it wasn’t working. Here’s review 1 and review 2 on it.

When the automatic dish began to have issues I was faced with the decision of either sending it back to the factory for repairs or moving on to something else. I decided to go with a home style dish.

The reasons for the move were these: (1) financial (the home style dish is much less expensive), and (2) the home style dish gives me a home style TV watching experience (HDTV and ability to watch/record multiple channels at the same time).


So, I bought the dish and used it with an inexpensive tripod. I used a cheaper meter for aiming the dish. Honestly, it wasn’t a very happy experience. The manual I downloaded for my 1000.2 dish has an index where you can look up the setup based on zip code. I would set the skew, elevation, and azimuth (direction) based on that manual’s figures. Using that inexpensive analog meter and a compass I tried to aim the dish.

I would slowly move the dish side to side. When the meter started screaming, I would lock it down, go to the rear window of the camper and look at the satellite setup screen on the TV. Sometimes it would show that I had dialed in the satellites, sometimes it would show that I was on the wrong satellite, and sometimes, in spite of what the meter was saying, there was nothing.

I used this method with varying degrees of success for a bit over two years. However, I was learning as I went. As I learned I made some changes that have made setting up the satellite easier.

Eastern arc LNBs.

Upgrade #1: Dish actually has two sets of satellites called the eastern and western arcs. In a good part of the country you can use either one (the more northeast or northwest you go the more you are limited to just one or the other). Also, if you want local channels in HD, you want the eastern arc when in the eastern part of the US and the western arc in the western part of the US. I bought the second set of LNB’s for the eastern arc. I use the same dish, just swap out the LNB’s as I move east. However, in some parts of the country you can swap out when you can’t see the southern sky for one set of satellites. This is a pretty nifty work-around for tree filled campgrounds.

This is an actual working set up in a difficult location.

Upgrade #2: I bought the Dishpointer Pro app for my Android phone. It superimposes the location of the satellites on the camera screen. Using this app I can use the phone to see where I need to set up the dish where it has a clear view of the satellites. I’ve been known to hop out of the truck and use the app when selecting a campsite, knowing ahead of time that the satellites are in clear view from the campsite. I know there are other apps that supposedly do the same thing, but after trying a few of them I settled on this one, in spite of the higher cost. I think it was worth it.


Upgrade #3: I bought a TV4RV tripod for the dish. Having the dish perfectly level is vital for aiming at the satellite. The legs on this tripod are individually adjustable which makes leveling easy. The tripod is also height adjustable. Fairly often getting just another foot higher means seeing the satellites or aiming at a tree limb. This tripod isn’t cheap, but it makes a huge difference when aiming the dish.

Upgrade #4: I got bluetooth headphones and stopped using the old analog meter. When the TV is on the satellite aiming screen, it makes a tone that changes in pitch depending on the strength of the satellite signal. With the headphones I can adjust the dish while listening to the tone from the TV. Some people spend a lot of money on meters that identify the satellite – I admit that would be better, but for the money, the headphones work great.

Using the above setup my home style dish setup time has decreased considerably. If you have a bit of technical ability, this approach might be for you. If you are a “plug and play” kind of person it is very unlikely you are still reading at this point, but if this describes you, you’ll probably want to spend the cash and get an automatic dish of some sort.

Comparing a 5th Wheel and a Diesel Pusher Motorhome

After 6 years in a 2007 34′ 5th wheel we moved to a 2005 39′ Diesel Pusher. Since the two rigs are from the same general timeframe I think they make for good comparisons. However, please understand that some observations are specific to these rigs – because of that our experience might be different than that of others. Both rigs were gently used by their previous owners. The motorhome only had 34,000 miles on it and the 5th wheel had been garaged and well cared for. The 5th wheel was a Hitchhiker II LS – a mid-level unit from a first class manufacturer. The motorhome is a Safari Cheetah, basically an industrial twin to a Monaco Knight – another mid-level unit. The 5th wheel was pulled by a 2008 Ford F350 with a 6.4 engine. As you read, remember that I am comparing our experience in these two specific rigs. Here are some observations on the two rigs.

Liveability: 5th Wheel
The 5th wheel has more storage and a better living layout. We did move the motorhome TV from over the driver’s area to over a couch on the side. It helped a lot. We originally thought the motorhome would have more storage but that didn’t prove to be true. It has less room inside and the bays don’t offer as much space as the big basement did in the 5th wheel. Things like heating and cooling are pretty much the same with either one.

On the road: tie
The motorhome is more comfortable and the big window up front offers the best view. When towing the car the motorhome can’t be backed up. Generally, this isn’t a problem, but if you make the wrong turn somewhere the car has to be disconnected, the motorhome moved, and then the car reconnected. Not a huge deal, but a negative when it happens. Some people said that the ride would be much smoother, but we haven’t found that to be true with this motorhome, even with new shocks. Getting fuel was better with the pickup simply because it could be filled up when not towing the camper.

Landing in a campground: tie
The motorhome is easy to park. The backup camera makes backing into a site a snap. Also, since the motorhome doesn’t bend in the middle it is easier to situate. However, in an unlevel site the 5th wheel wins. It doesn’t care how high you have to crank the landing gear. With the motorhome, you can easily end up with the front wheels off the ground. Some people say that doesn’t matter, but in the manual that came with our rig it clearly says not to do that. Getting level can be a challenge even with the hydraulic levelers.

Local Transportation: Motorhome
With the 5th wheel, the daily driver is a big pickup – poor mileage and challenging to park in tighter spaces. We now pull a small car with the motorhome. A much better daily driver.  Not only that, it can be a real plus to scout a campground in the smaller car before driving the rig to the campsite – especially in pick-your-own-site situations.

Maintenance – Repairs (engine/chassis side): 5th Wheel
If the pickup needed work, we could take it to most any shop that worked on diesel pickups while the 5th wheel was comfortably parked in a campground. When the motorhome needs work, we have to find a shop that works on big trucks that will also work on a motorhome. You see, some truck and trailer shops will work on motorhomes, some won’t. Then, while the work is being done the house is in the shop too. If that work includes an overnight stay arraignments have to be made for accommodations (although it should be noted that depending on the type of work, many shops will let you stay in the motorhome overnight in their parking lot). In addition: work on the motorhome is almost always more costly than on the pickup.

Maintenance – Repairs (camper side): tie
Getting camper stuff worked on (or doing it yourself) is about the same on either one. Refrigerators, water heaters, awnings, etc. are pretty much the same. It is much easier to get work done by mobile techs on the camper side of the motorhome than on the engine side.

Cost of routine operation: motorhome
The motorhome gets about the same mileage as did the pickup when towing the camper. However, once in the campground, we drive a small car that gets much better mileage. Oil changes, etc. cost a lot more on the motorhome, but only have to be done yearly, making the annual cost about the same. Also, remember, the motorhome is only run when actually changing campsites, keeping mileage low compared to the pickup which is also a daily driver.

Storage accessibility: 5th wheel
I’ve already touched on this, but looking at it only from ease of access, the 5th wheel bay is much easier to use. All the bays of the motorhome are under the 4 slide outs. I wear knee pads and have to get down on my knees to reach into the bays. It is harder to get things in and out of the motorhome bays.

Propane: tie
The 5th wheel had two big removable propane tanks. A bit heavy, but taking them out and getting them filled was a reasonable amount of effort. On the motorhome the tank is built in. You either have to take the rig to a station and have it filled or you have to see if anyone is delivering (not all that uncommon in larger parks with long term residents).

Dry camping: motorhome
This is only about our specific rigs but I have the idea is it more common than not. The motorhome has a big diesel generator, an inverter, and 4 6-volt house batteries. It has larger holding tanks too. There are ways to do all the above with a 5th wheel, but the motorhome is pretty much ready to go without any special add-ons (neither had solar of any kind).

In-motion convenience: motorhome (but not as much as you might think)
Prior to getting the motorhome we were told how great it would be for the passenger to be able to get up and move around while in motion. We haven’t found that to be the case. It is downright dangerous for anyone to be up and moving around while on the road. Sometimes we take advantage of a stoplight or a nice straight stretch of open interstate to get up and do something, but most of the time the passenger needs to stay strapped in.

Getting in and out: 5th wheel (but not as much as you might think)
There are more steps getting into the motorhome and they have to be navigated every time you go in or out whether on the road and traveling or stationary in the campground. On the other hand getting in and out of the pickup is just a bit harder than getting in and out of a car. Then, in the campground, there are fewer steps coming and going from the 5th wheel. However, this advantage is somewhat diminished by the additional steps going up to the bedroom and bathroom. I’m giving the 5th wheel the win here, but not by much.

Cost: 5th Wheel
Bear in mind that I’m talking about used rigs here. The cost of a big late model diesel pickup plus good 5th wheel is at least in the same neighborhood as a used low mileage diesel pusher motorhome of similar vintage. However, you have to then add in the cost of a small towed vehicle. Then, chassis-engine repairs will cost more on the motorhome. The price difference is offset a bit by the better motorhome resale value. The results are mixed – but I give a slight plus to the 5th wheel. Frankly, the startup on our motorhome has been very expensive for us as we found issues that had to be fixed. I’m counting those costs in with the purchase price – hopefully, these expenses will come to an end very soon.

Prestige: Motorhome
If you like compliments on your rig (and who doesn’t) the motorhome is the hands-down winner. I’ve had guys in a pickup truck pull up beside me in traffic and give me a thumbs up (never had that happen with the 5ver!). It isn’t unusual for people in campgrounds to complement us on our rig. Honestly, the first thing that got our attention about this motorhome was how good it looks. Apparently, a lot of people agree. This kind of stuff is no big deal to us, but it has happened often enough to convince us that it is more than a coincidence.

So the jury is still out
As you can see, at this point it’s a mixed bag. It would be untrue for us to say we haven’t missed our 5th wheel. Of course, after living in it for six years we knew all of its quirks – we are still learning the motorhome. At this time the thing we like best about the motorhome is the small car we tow – making it a pleasure to go sightseeing or just to run to the store. The thing we like least is how much more difficult it is to get work done on the chassis side of it. It is a much more difficult thing to find a shop to work on it and then to take it there as opposed to taking the pickup into the Ford dealer.

Note: this article is a work in progress. I’ll likely be back to add/edit items as things become apparent to me.