After leaving Des Moines, we moved for the weekend to south-western Iowa, just outside the town of Creston, to Green Valley State Park. First, after a few days with just electric hookups, we were happy to have all the services: 50 amp electric, water & sewer! All the sites here have some sort of lake view, there is a small beach, boat ramp, hiking & biking trail, and even some cabins to rent. But the best part about this park was the peace and quiet and darkness! Even as the park filled up for the weekend, it was still a nice quiet park. Birds calling all the time.
The lake here is a man-made lake with many campers bringing their fishing boats out in the morning to fish for large mouth bass.
Most of the fields are planted with corn or soybeans; but a few have been left to grow beautiful Black-eyed Susans……
A slough is a good place to raise a family……
Clouds in the west can’t stop a sunset on the water!
Once, a long time ago, we picked wild blackberries and I came home with chiggers and seed ticks every where (they like to go in all your creases, around your ankles, behind your knees, and further up, if you know what I mean!). So, no matter how delicious or thick they look, we don’t go in to pick them any more!
As we left town today for another campground, we had to go through this underpass:
I purchased lowclearances.com map download and got to use it today! Our coach is 12’9″ high up to the top of the old satellite dome on top……this train bridge was not a problem! But we still held our breath as we drove under it! One of the troubles I have run into is finding a good GPS program for us. I have researched and read all about Garmin and Rand McNally and everyone else without coming to a good decision. Every one of them has mixed reviews and in the year 2017 I feel that there should be a GPS that has more good than bad reviews! In the meantime, I map our route the night before we leave on Google with the low clearances layer added. After I determine the safest, easiest route, I use Waze while we drive; Waze is a live traffic/navigation app that gives great clear directions and live updates (police ahead, construction, hazards, etc.). Little things that make a big difference!
Just north of Des Moines, Iowa is a Corps of Engineers lake and several campgrounds…….we stayed at one of them, Cherry Glen Campground on Saylorville Lake. Now, we have lived in the St. Louis, Missouri area for most of our lives and are familiar with the Iowa weather: winds blow across most of the time, it is hot in the summer and cold in the winter, and winter ice and snow are frequent problems. This week was no different; but we had good strong electrical hookups and our A/C’s work well. They issued an Extreme Heat Warning for this part of Iowa as the temperatures were always in the 95º range for the week……at nights only cooling off to the upper 70º’s.
But while we were here, we discovered the neighboring town…. well not really anything for us to discover but this:
We also made time to visit with some of our eldest son’s friend and family while we were here. They have 2 boys, one is 8 and the other is 2; it was fun to see them and meet the boys. We haven’t seen them since the 8 year old was about 3 years old! Sadly, I forgot to take a photo with them……too hot for my brain I guess!
Although it was still a holiday week, we moved to Hidden Valley Outfitters Campground (HVO) near Bennett Springs, MO. I have never been to this part of the state and looked forward to visiting the springs. However, due to the holiday, Barry was not able to book any appointments in Springfield or Joplin. Instead, we found time to visit with family and relax!!!
First though, the campground: a Good Sam campground and a discount! It has a funny little entrance to the area — they are currently in a little metal building and nearly finished with a new big building across the way. It looks like an old-style Old West building with a long front porch, but will include a water feature out front……worth returning to see the finished project. After you check in, you drive between the Niagua River and a big field before the campground comes into view. There are about 4 rows of campsites in this area with 50 amp, FHU’s, a campground, picnic shelter, river access and a nice shower house. Continuing along the road and over a low-water bridge into another campground for tents and smaller campers with 30 amp electric. In this area is also a little chapel and another nice playground and shower house. Up the hill is a third camp area for “extended stay” units — this is a huge property. We stayed here for 7 nights; but had to move from site #38 after 5 nights to site #37. Site #38 is the first site as you come into the campground and faces the river. It was a wonderful place to relax with the first shade every afternoon and the view of rafters floating down the river. And the fishermen…….everyone comes here to fish for the trout released just upstream at Bennett Springs State Park.
There is so much to see and do at the state park; fishing, shopping and eating in the lodge, trails, lots of wildflowers, multiple campgrounds (those reservations are as hard to get during Trout season as the ones in the Florida Keys!), pool, playground, even the Bennett Springs Church of God. We ate breakfast at the lodge one morning and it was delicious; the lodge was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1930 from stones and timber frames. The state introduced 40,000 mountain spring trout in 1900 and purchased the spring and surrounding property in 1924-25.
I was not always an outdoor person, we never camped as we grew up and I did not take my family camping……so these moments are all new to me. I have never been on a river float trip — until now! HVO offered float trips and we booked a Saturday morning time! Barry and I met other floaters at the picnic shelter and were picked up by their van driver. People brought coolers and float tubes and more coolers and sunscreen and music players and more coolers! It seems that loud music and drinking are major parts of floating on the river! We drove back up north of the state park for about 7 miles until we reached the drop off site. A couple of men were there with rows of rafts, canoes, and kayaks lined up along a gravel bar for us; one pointed to two kayaks, made sure we had paddles and life jackets and walked away while we loaded up our water bottles and sunscreen and pushed off. Poor Barry was a bit unsteady and fell right into the water as he tried to get into his kayak (!!). I was already paddling into the current and paused to just float until he caught up to me. Our trip was wonderful!!!! The water was comfortably warm and kept us from getting too hot. We saw wildflowers, huge trees, fish, turtles, snakes, lots of birds and many other floaters. We floated by tall old trees, towering cliffs, dead tree snags, with bird songs accompanying us. We stopped a couple of times to get out and swim in the warm water. We finally came up to the spot where Bennett Spring met the river……the water dropped from warm to so very cold! Then we came back to the HVO gravel bar and landed our kayaks there with the waiting boat team. We walked back to our coach, tired and hot and happy.
After a lovely week, we packed up and drove back to St. Louis for some family time.
For many years, we enjoyed sharing a “lake house” with my in-laws. Nothing fancy, just all full of used furniture, discounted carpeting, and comfortable love. But as our sons became men they moved away from Missouri and the house became our burden……upkeep and yard work and lack of time. And things change and we sold the house. We have not been back to the Lake of the Ozarks for at least 5 years and, with our RV, we really did not intend to go back. But the Fourth of July was coming, we needed to move, and I found a campsite at the Lake of the Ozarks State Park.
The Lake of the Ozarks is an engineered, hydro-electric dammed body of water fed by many area rivers and streams. It is set in the middle of Missouri in the Ozark Mountains (the only “mountains” between the Appalachian and Rocky Mountains). The area is hilly and rocky and hilly and dry and hilly; well, you get the idea…….I looked online at every site in the park and checked the slope on each one to find the most “level” site before settling on a 1.8″/10′ slope and hoped for the best. This state park is cut into several sections, some separated by long lake fingers of water and the campground is away from the main body of the lake on the GrandGlaize arm. It begins at the highest point along a ridge and falls down rapidly to lake level with 5 separated campgrounds along the way. The first campground has the only 50amp sites long enough for big rigs, but there were no water/sewer hookups. The park is very nice with history and hiking/biking trails, horse-back riding, an airport, playgrounds, camp store, boat launch and 2 sand beaches (man-made). The shower house near Campground #1 was just nasty…..funny story though…….as I was entering the ladies side to shower one morning the door was latched from the inside. An older gentleman and his wife came to the door, unlatched it and left together —- whaaaattttt?
We did have fun during the weekend meeting up with friends we haven’t seen in a year or so, checking out some of our previous hang-outs and just relaxing. No more coughing, feeling better every day.