Our Wonderful Followers who come back again and again to read about us...

Friday, March 8, 2024

Moving Day Craziness - on to Tar Camp COE in Redfield Arkansas

Leaving Merrisach Lake COE was going to be hard. It is located near Tichnor, Arkansas. Just east of DeWitt.  It was such a beautiful spot but we knew we had to move on. Someone else had our stupendous site D9 reserved. Read my previous blog to see why we loved it so much. We could have moved to another site and spent more time at the park, but some of our idea of adventure is to try other parks too. So we went online and looked ahead for the next Corps of Engineers Park.

There was one further up the Arkansas River called Tar Camp, near Redfield.  Almost all of their sites were empty so we knew there wouldn't be a problem getting one. We would wait until we got there and then pay for a site --- once we could pick one out to our liking.

In the meantime, that means it's Moving Day! 

The first thing we have to do is stow all of our gear and pull in the slides and unplug and hit the road. It doesn't take us long to do that. Steve had everything strapped down in the cargo trailer already the night before.

We searched ahead on the GPS for a laundromat. We found one that looked relatively new from the Google Earth pictures, and it also had a large gravel turnaround area in the back of its parking lot to easily accommodate our motorhome and cargo trailer.

This is a Sunday morning and we figured it'd be pretty easy to get a spot in a laundromat to wash clothes. Oh boy, were we ever wrong!

The town was called Pine Bluff, Arkansas. We pulled off the highway and made our way up to the laundromat. It wasn't very far. Well, it happened to be right next door to a church. And I'll tell you why that fact matters in just a minute...

We gathered up all of our dirty laundry and went inside to get started. There were about 20 washing machines. Absolutely every single one was being used or already done with the cycle and still had wet clothes laying in them. There was not a single vacant machine in sight. There were also three people waiting impatiently on chairs with huge loads of multiple laundry hampers, waiting for an empty machine. Nobody was taking the wet clothes out of the machines that had cycles completed. Easily more than half of the machines were sitting there occupied and not being emptied. One lady said to another "Don't dare touch anyone's clothes, you will get knifed for doing that!" Huh?

After listening to some of the other grumbling people waiting, I figured it out. People toss their laundry in to wash, and then went next door to church! We would be waiting an extra 15 minutes until the services ended before those people would come back and get their clothes out of the washers. Plus, ahead of us were more people waiting for machines. It looked like it would take us a couple hours to get our laundry done if we stayed at this location. No thank you.

But we did take the liberty of their functioning coin changing machine. We had some quarters on hand but definitely needed more. We've been finding it difficult to ask cash register people when we check out any where at a store if we can exchange dollars for quarters. So in the meantime, we tossed in $30 to the coin machine and came away with a Ziploc baggie full of quarters. It almost felt like going to a casino! (Not that we ever go to casinos anyhow.... )

We hauled our dirty laundry back out into the motorhome. I looked up again on Google maps and found another laundromat, this a few miles further into town. It looked like a rougher part of town and the laundromat didn't really look to be super wonderful. But at least it was a place to go. We wandered our way up there. The parking lot was a bit more rugged but we found a spot to park out of the way. We carried in our dirty laundry and there were only three other people in the entire place! Many many vacant machines, and pretty decent clean tables for folding. 

The only thing different was, they were pretty new large front loading machines, but they were $6.50 for a load to wash! That was a lot more than what we're used to, that's for sure. We loaded up all of our dirty laundry and completely did all of our bedding and towels. I decided I wanted to wash both of our big quilts and get everything freshened up. Four large loads later, which equaled $25, everything was clean. The dryers were 12 minutes for every quarter. So another $10 later we had everything dry and loaded back out into the motorhome. $35.00 for laundry?? Boy oh boy do I ever miss the onboard washer and dryer of our last motorhome!!!  Did I ever mention that I HATE laundromats???

Our next stop on the way was to hit the Walmart before we got back up on the highway. Sunday afternoon in a Walmart is absolutely crazy! We zoomed around as best we could, and grabbed everything that we needed. It just seemed to be every aisle had people wandering around aimlessly, standing in the way or stopping in the middle of the lanes and not letting you pass. We got out of there as quick as we could and stowed away our new groceries in the motorhome. Now it was time to hit the road to our next destination.

We drove through a pretty nice neighborhood and wound our way down to the river at Tar Camp COE just out of Redfield, Arkansas. The park was quite a distance from town and it was very quiet.

The sites stretched all along the riverbank and there were only three other campers in the entire park. They were all packing up and getting ready to leave. Check out time was 3:00 p.m. . There was one whole loop of the park that appeared to be brand new. We later found out it was due to some flooding. It had recently been completely rebuilt. They had two big flat bed trailers and a crane ready to place a new shower building that came in two pieces. The big cement building is completely plumbed and furnished and ready to go and just needs to be lifted off the flatbeds and placed together with a seam down the middle. Very interesting way to construct bathrooms on the spot. These are built up on the inside with toilets, sinks and shower stalls too. Everything is completely there, even the wiring. It just needs to be set into place and hooked up and ready to go.

We looped around and pulled the motorhome into a wide area of the road. We chose a site and then went online to try to reserve it.

Well, we logged into Recreation.gov where we have an account. (Keep in mind this was the THIRD Corp of Engineers park we have been at and have used Recreation.gov each time to register)

We would get everything all plugged in online in the boxes on the form and get down to the credit card in the shopping cart and it would deny us! We know it wasn't our credit card, but we tried a different one anyhow. Denied. Then we tried a third one! We were actually even trying to pay with our PayPal account which it says it would also accept as a form of payment. Nothing would go through. We kept getting denied. It was absolutely crazy!  I checked all 3 credit card companies and we were fine and good to go, no problems with any of them, and NO attemps from the Corp of Engineers in that last few hours that would have been questionable or pending. Hmmmm???

We had successfully used the same registration for Corps of Engineer parks at our last two campgrounds on the Recreation.gov site. Why was this not working? It kept making me plug everything in each time--- and then it would deny us. Of course it's a timed reservation shopping cart checkout system and it would time out and make you start all over again.

Finally, the host came by in his little cart and asked if we needed some assistance. We told him we are having trouble logging in or completing a reservation. He said he really couldn't help us because the Corps of Engineers had just recently taken away their old defunct out of date computers. They are due for brand new computers any day now. But they had no way to access the reservation system for us. He also didn't have any idea of who's coming and who's not, until they get a new system. So he said just pull into the site we wanted and spend the night and call the 800 number and see if we could get registered that way.

So, we did just that. We chose the site we liked and got all set up. We tried the 800 number, and guess what? We get a recording saying that they are temporarily out of service!

What the heck???

So I guess we were going to spend the night and be a little radical and not be paid for the night... Hope no ranger comes by so that we get into trouble? As you can see, nobody was waiting for our campsite or any other site by this time on a Sunday night. 

After that, I grabbed my cell phone and tried just one more time. For some strange reason it wanted me to completely log back out and in again and change my password? Then when I finally got in, it pulled up our old profile from wayyyyy back over 12 years ago when we lived out on the river in Oconto. It had our old address in the pre filled-in blanks. Maybe that's why it wouldn't accept our credit cards because the addresses didn't match? So I went in the profile and I changed it back to our current address. Guess what? It went through right away! 

We figured that since we were finally logged into the system, we reserved this site for five nights in a row to just settle in and relax.

Whatabugger of a day!!!! 

Tar Camp is a very nice campground all along the banks of the Arkansas River, again with viewing of barges and tugboats going by. It was very pleasant and quiet with good facilities. I guess a lot of fisherman frequent the park, but otherwise, it's a pretty quiet place. It's known that you can usually get a campsite even on a weekend.

The other three campers have pulled out and now we were all by ourselves except for the host at the beginning of the park.  Each site has this covered pergola and picnic table, 30 and 50 amp power, water spigot and firering and lantern hanger. Sites are $26 a night, but with the America The Beautiful Senior Access Pass, it's only $13 a night for us. 

After the day we had, it was time to set out the lawn chairs and crack open a beverage. We deserved it.  Both dogs needed a good long walk around the park, and we needed to enjoy the rest of our evening. 

It was a peaceful night, and we woke up with new energy and a calm peaceful outlook in our quiet campsite.  All we are looking for on this trip are temps in the 70s during the day, and not lower than about 40-50 at night.  No big sightseeing things, no tourist traps, no crazy interstates or big cities.  Just calm and relaxing stretches in natural settings on a budget.  

On Monday, the sun finally came out and we were totally enjoying the warmth and sunshine. 

We took the dogs out for a fun ride in their little trailer behind our e-bikes. There weren't a lot of places to go, but we at least got around the park. Added to that, we knew that we were due for about 3 days of rain. Got to get out when the getting is good.


They are really enjoying the process of riding along, and we stop and let them out to see and sniff new places. Even if it's just to the boat landing or a picnic area.  We found some cows up the road in a rural fenced in field.  That was interesting, but we kept them IN the trailer for that. 

The sun was setting, but we could see the dark clouds rolling in for the storms due later that night.  We filled a "bug out bag" with weather radio, phone chargers, wallets, portable hard drive from the laptop and current medications.  Just in case... we were only a few sites away from a large concrete bath building that we could go rush into for shelter.  We even left the dog harnesses on them overnight for easy reach and their leashes by the door next to our shoes. 

The storms rolled on past overnight, and mostly we only got the winds and the rains. Glad we were not treated to the hail and lightening and tornadoes that other areas experienced. 

The next day, a motorhome pulled in a couple sites away and we met some really wonderful people from Northeast Alabama. They are musicians and play the mandolin and the ukulele. (Hi Mike and Penny!) We had so much in common and really enjoyed jaw jacking for quite a while. The ranger joined us for a bit too, as he was making his rounds.

The next 3 days were intermittent rain, storms, and lots of dreary weather. We had one more evening of sunshine to enjoy but that was about it. We didnt even get to burn a campfire, but we gave our wood away to some other folks instead. 

We did manage some outdoor cooking in between rainshowers. Steve set up his Blackstone flat iron griddle on the concrete table and took care of some of the dinner duties.  It's nice when we can cook outside. The food always tastes better, don't you think?

I had marinated up some boneless skinless chicken thighs during the day.  He was able to grill them up and set aside 2/3 of it for future meals. The last third, he slathered with Sweet Bay Rays BBQ sauce and finished them up for our dinner.  Yummmmmm

During the rainy portion of the days, we were comfy and cozy inside the motorhome. The dogs were a bit antsy, so we got them out in between rain showers to run off some energy.  Especially Nicholas.  

One evening, we had spaghetti for dinner. Little did we know we had our OWN Lady and the Tramp!

We are content on the rainy days. Steve did some searching and looking around on Marketplace and the internet. He's got a couple ideas in his brain of a few modifications he wants to make on the motorhome.  He was watching some You Tubes and looking up some specs on things.  Doesn't he look happy?

The rain just came down in buckets on Thursday.  We had so much rain that we were checking the flood reports for the area, and making sure we were in a quick getaway mode to higher ground if the need arose.

I simmered up a pot of beef vegetable soup with some tenderloin tips we had brought in the freezer from home.  Instead of cooking on the griddle outside, we made due with swapping recipes over to indoor cooked items. It sure smelled great inside the motorhome for the rest of the day.

I did get a lot of sewing done. I set up my little Singer Featherweight machine and my tiny iron.  I had precut all of the pieces at home to take along. We watched some old western movies on Grit tv station, or some great home fix up shows on HGTV.  It doesn't take a lot to entertain us. 

I've completed 19 blocks now of my maple leaf quilt.  I am going to make them spread out in four different directions.  Not sure if I am going to put a little thin border of dark brown around each one yet or not. (called "Sashing" and "Cornerstones") I will see.  I need to complete 48 ten inch blocks before I need to decide. 

Now it is Friday. 

We looked ahead and decided to go to Maumelle Corps of Engineers Park which is just a bit further west of Little Rock. A nice guy by the name of Tom that we met back in Jonesboro had recommended it. I went online and found a nice campsite for the weekend. I was able to reserve it with absolutely no problem now that the correct address is in our profile on Recreation.gov.   Go figger! 

So as I write this today is another Moving Day and we are heading out of Tar Camp COE this morning. It's only 47 miles up to Maumelle. Even though check in time isn't until 4:00 p.m., a friend of Tom's is already camping there on another site nearby. He walked over this morning and made sure our site was already empty. So we are on the road now to make one quick stop at a Trader Joe's, and then we are going to head on over to Maumelle and get set up for the weekend.

From there, who knows? Stay tuned...


  1. I sure do enjoy your blog. We did a lot of camping in CoE sites when we were traveling but not along the Arkansas River so these are all new to me. You write great reviews!
    Linda Sand

  2. Arkansas (my home state) has the best COE parks--glad you are enjoying them. And a word of advice--the lady who told you what would happen if you messed with someone's clothes--was probably correct. Pine Bluff was not a great place to be even back in my teenage years.

  3. Looks like you're having a very relaxing time (minus the laundromat debacle). Hope the weather improves for you with a bit less rain.

  4. We stayed at Maumelle years ago and really enjoyed going to the Clinton Library and Little Rock Central High School.

  5. It's so good to be reading your blog again.

  6. Steve did look very happy as did the dogs. Enjoying your blogging.


Thanks for taking the time to comment on my blog! I moderate all comments so it may take a little while for your comment to appear.