Vagabond in America 2016 travel blog

House boat (left) vs Float House (right)

Dinner at the Marina with my Cousin and his Wife

My Cousin Enjoying Floating on the Lake

The Parthenon at Centenial Park in Nashville, TN

Inside the Parthenon

Traffic on the Mississippi

BRT (Big River Trail)

Pooka attacking a plastic cup

Pooka is starting to get relaxed in his new home

My next jump was to the tiny city of Burgin, Kentucky, population 874. It has a single pizza shop, one gas station, and a convenience store. But, it has three large churches. Yup. I’m in the Bible Belt! The much larger nearby city of Harrodsburg, Kentucky, calls itself “Kentucky’s First Settlement.” It has quite a few tourist attractions including a Shaker Village and Old Fort Harrod (a replica of a 1774 fort).

But, that’s not why I came here. I came to visit my cousin who I literally haven’t seen in decades.

My cousin and his wife own a “float house” at the marina. I’d never before heard of a float house. As my cousin describes it, a float house is essentially a small cabin mounted on a raft. This is different from a “house boat”, which is all one piece and has its own motor. When you’re inside his float house, it’s difficult to know that you’re not in a mountain cabin, except that the whole house rocks a little. Since I live in an RV, I'm accustomed to the floor moving when I walk!

I was a bit surprised to find a marina in Kentucky. There are no ocean shores and no large lakes. In this case, the river had carved a deep ravine. Adding a single dam created the 250 foot deep Herrington Lake. The three of us spent some time together all three of the days that I was there. One day we had dinner at the local marina. One day we went out in their power boat and went swimming by simply jumping off the back of the boat then had dinner at their float house. The third day, we had breakfast at the marina and then went to see my RV. We spent much of our time catching up on family stories and family history. It was far more time than the total of all the time we’ve spent together up until now. That’s one of the greatest advantages of my traveling lifestyle.

My next planned jump was to Missouri. While driving to Missouri, I got a call from my disaster coordinator at Red Cross. There was an urgent call out for volunteers to help with the flooding in the Baton Rouge, Louisiana, area. I'm certified in DST (Disaster Services Technology), which involves maintaining the computers, communications and networks that allow other Red Cross workers to assist the victims. In response to the flooding disaster, the national office of American Red Cross sent out urgent requests for many specialists, including DST. Soon there were over 10,000 people evacuated from their homes and living temporarily in Red Cross shelters.

I made an immediate left turn and headed south, toward Baton Rouge. I got as far as Knoxville where I spent the night. I started looking for a campground or other suitable location near the flooding where I could park my RV and assist with the disaster relief operation. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any. The local KOA was closed due to the flooding. The other nearby campgrounds were also at very low altitudes. Either they were closed or the roads leading to them were closed. I was unable to deploy without my RV, since I had no one to look after Pooka (my baby bunny).

I waited a few days in Nashville, including one tourist visit to Centennial Park, site of the 1897 Tennessee Expo. I love visiting the sites of World's Fairs!

I kept hoping that I'd find a way to safely get to Baton Rouge to assist the disaster operation. But, I failed. Reluctantly, I gave up and resumed my travels westward crossing the Mississippi (which was the cause of flooding further south).

I found an excellent campsite just across the Mississippi River in Arkansas. It was right along the side of the river. After all the chaos trying, unsuccessfully, to get to Baton Rouge, I relaxed at my campsite, watching the barges slowly working their way up or down the Mississippi. I did spend one hour riding my bike along the new bike path that will soon be connecting West Memphis, Arkansas, with Memphis, Tennessee. Unfortunately, I couldn’t bicycle over the Mississippi, since the old railroad bridge that will be part of the bike trail isn't finished yet.

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