Saturday, August 29, 2015

We Travel to Forget

Arrow Rock State Historical Site Campground is situated just north and west of Boonville, Missouri. Nestled right next door to the Historic Village of Arrow Rock, the park is quiet, well-maintained and easily accessible.

Before we left Kansas City, we decided on Arrow Rock as a destination for several reasons:

  • It was fairly close
  • Our rig is stored near US 24 east of Independence, Missouri and US 24 was an interesting route east toward the park.
  • I checked out the campground on Google Earth and StreetView, looking for pull-through access entry and exit*
  • Our other choices - Weston Bend State Park and Wallace State Park just seemed too close to home - we'll try them next time
Our trip to the park was mostly uneventful, though I was sure the twisting, hilly roads of US 24 were going to eat up our fuel mileage in a hurry. West-central Missouri is deceptively up and down and is some beautiful country. Before long, we passed the Higginsville turn-off and the Big Finger on the road to Dover.

We pulled over on the Main Drag at Brunswick, Missouri to stretch our legs and then found an RV-friendly lot to turn around in so we could double back to head south on the Highway 41 turn that I missed earlier. There is a pattern that will develop around events such as these.

Highway 41 is another rolling, up and down road all the way past Marshall, Missouri and on to Arrow Rock toward Boonville. Although I did my Google homework, I managed to drive right past the subtle campground entrance sign at Big Soldier Lake. So south we drove, looking for a place big enough to turn around our 50 foot combined rig. After a thirteen mile bonus trip, we finally reached the junction with I-70 and turned around at a truck stop and headed back for Arrow Rock.

We made the turn at the campground entrance and drove directly to our reserved space - number 47. The space is tree-lined and shady, as is much of the campground. Our space was paved, so when we dropped the trailer, we didn't have to deal with uneven or soft ground. Taking a cue from Twitter pal, full-time RVer and photographer Al White, we shortened or landing gear and stabilizer jacks with a combination of a concrete block and a 2.25-inch plywood platform. The result is a shorter, more stable jack and a trailer that is absolutely rock-solid.

We hooked up power, set camp, and started dinner - grilled chicken breasts, roasted potatoes, sweet corn and salad. This was when we started to realize that we had forgotten a few things. Here's the deal - Kath makes lists. Kath has always made lists. We don't forget things because Kath makes lists. Sometimes we have things we don't need, but this time we got crossed up. Short story, we forgot a few things, maybe more than a few things, but with Boonville a short drive away, we fixed most of our issues and vowed to watch our checklists more closely.

After dinner we set about installing the new LED TV that the lovely folks at Bielstein had sent us. The one that came with the trailer was damaged, and while it showed no signs of damage to the exterior, the unit was unwatchable due to some kind of impact. The new one had been sent to the house and we loaded it with the rest of our stuff to install once we got settled. Turns out it was worse than the first, with visible impact damage to the front of the screen. A quick call to Bielstein set things straight and we'll install another unit soon enough. 

Later, we cracked open a bottle of Drambuie, - we've adopted a sort of Nick and Nora Charles approach to life on the road . . . solve mysteries and have celebratory cocktails -  and sat out in the cool evening air. A reminder, this is August in Missouri - cool evening air usually means low 90s. We were enjoying temps in the upper 70s that by morning would dip into the low 50s. Amazing. August is cicada time around here, and the critters were in full voice, droning from every branch of every tree. I measured their love songs at a grating 73 decibels.

The moon came up over a quiet campground, and we turned in for the night. By the time we arose to the aroma of coffee perking, it was in the high fifties, and we wondered why we had forgotten to bring jackets this time. Ahem.

French toast for breakfast, dishes done and a bit of campground reconnoiter. As I walked around, it dawned on me that this place was nice enough, and quiet, but deceptively downhill everywhere you look. Wound up a few degrees out of level ourselves, and when we looked around, we realized that every space was situated on a downhill slope. It was like one of those Ozarks Hillbilly Mystery Houses where people lean precipitously as they stand on a flat floor.

Our neighbors' fourteen-foot Jayco Swift was pointed to the sky, and I just figured they had some strange predilection for slanty floors.  It wasn't until later that I realized that it was all an optical illusion. They were dead level, but their site was ten degrees downhill. Things were like this all over the campground. No complaints about the campground, but the place is positively disorienting.

All in all, it's a nice quiet campground, made more so by our mid-week visit. The campground host was helpful and able to answer our questions and get us fixed up with firewood.

My major question was how in the hell do I get this massive trailer around the hairpin turn at the end of the pull-through? When I was looking at the camp by satellite, it didn't look all that bad. In reality, it had a fairly sharp radius, trees and a small culvert on the inside portion of the turn.

We finally decided to back the rig out of the space and drive around the long way, thus clearing one obstacle, but creating yet another. Backing this monster hasn't been on my priority learning schedule, but it was about to go front burner the next morning.

We wandered the park after dinner on the second evening, and were able to stop and appreciate the simple beauty of Central Missouri on a late summer day. Smoke from the massive wildfires in the Pacific Northwest gave the hazy sun a golden yellow color, even high in the sky.

Not a bad way to wrap up a couple of late summer days with Highlander. Successfully backed the rig and got on our way after the necessary tank-flushing ablutions. Refueled before the trip home and our fuel mileage was actually better than our trip from eastern Missouri a few weeks back, now up to 11.2 mpg. Hit I-70 westbound and was home in good time, and got the rig swung around, powered down, and parked in its super-secret undisclosed location, ready for the next adventure.

I hope you'll join us.

*In some cases, there would seem to be no information available via StreetView for state parks and campgrounds. However, you can sometimes click on the road leading to the park and "drive" in via the StreetView interface. This tactic got me into our chosen campsite at Arrow Rock.

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