Saturday, August 8, 2015

A slightly longer stay

 We settled into our campsite at the Boulder Lake campground at Wakonda State Park. "Campsite" sounds wrong, somehow when you're parked in a fifth-wheel with air conditioning, a king-size bed and all the comforts of home. Anyway, we occupied campsite #12, a pull-through with ample - 50 amp - electrical service. Right next door were the volunteer campground hosts, Orville and Rhonda Crow, and they got our permits stapled and posted to the campsite. A few campers in the area had wood fires burning, and the sweet smell of oak smoke drifted throughout the camp.
Boulder Lake

Boulder Lake Campground

We were prepared for August conditions - hot, humid and a boiling sun - but cooler forces prevailed, and the mercury never got out of the middle eighties. Spring conditions, to be sure. No complaints, kids. 

Our original plan was to spend one night in Wakonda and then start the trek back to Kansas City, but as we watched the weather maps develop, we kept seeing forecasts for heavy downpours all across the state, and especially around Kansas City. 

Highlander II Panorama

I already had an advanced case of the yips just thinking about my first trek across Missouri pulling our City on Wheels and the thought of learning to drive the behemoth rig in a driving rainstorm nearly sent me into seasick mode. We decided to spend another night and wait for things to settle down. Know when to be a hero, know when to call one in. Besides, where we were going to park the rig was a grassy area next to a friend's barn, and it didn't sound like a rain-friendly spot with ten tons of rolling stock coming in.

The Flood of 1993 remembered.
So we stayed another night, checked in with Orville, and made plans to wander the area the next day. Waconda is just thirty miles or so from the Iowa border, and since in my younger days I had somewhat of a history in Keokuk, we decided to hop up there and have a look around.

Keokuk, a river town on the Mississippi, was, judging from some of the houses in the older parts of town, quite the destination for the moneyed classes at the turn of the last century, beautiful Victorian homes, bungalows and the draw of the river created a bustling community. In more recent times, the river has been tamed by Lock and Dam Number 19 - the Lock, holding some 38 million gallons of water, provides a step-up or step-down for the river's barge traffic. The barges, nearly a quarter-mile long carry corn, wheat and coal from the upper reaches of the midwest to the Gulf of Mexico and beyond.
A stump

We rubber-necked our way through the town for a while and I showed Kathi my points of interest and infamy from forty-five years ago. We grabbed a quick sandwich for lunch, hit the Hy-Vee for dinner stuff and headed back to the park.

Chief Keokuk
On the way back we remembered why we stayed an extra night. The sky grew darker and darker, and by the time we were ready to find our refueling exit at Canton, it was a full-on toad-strangler. It eventually passed and we filled up Tug and calculated the mileage. We had managed exactly 15 miles per gallon on the way up and on the Keokuk side trip. Not bad for a four-ton monster. Now we could calculate what tax our 13,000 pound Highlander II would levy on the system on our return trip. Tomorrow we'd find out.

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