Thursday, May 12, 2016

Notes From Basecamp

Our stay at Bennett Spring State Park is nearing its end. We rolled in here at the end of February, and quite frankly, we didn't know what to expect from the park, its management, or our new venture as full-time RVers.

We had left the house in the hands of our realtor and just ran like hell. Long story short, that has turned out as well as could be hoped for. The house was under contract within a week, and the sale closed a few weeks later. We're free.

We've seen several seasons here - winter still had a firm grip on the area when we arrived. Winter gave way, reluctantly, to a struggling spring, and from time to time, summer has elbowed its way in as a kind of preview of things to come.

We've been in two campsites. The campsite in Campground 4 was almost perfect, but we were bumped for camp hosts with more volunteer seniority, as it were. We rolled down to Campground 3, several weeks before it was open to the public - our own private campground. We've watched herds of deer wandering lazily though the park, unconcerned by our presence and our binocular eavesdropping. We've been witness to the annual unveiling of the flowering dogwood, clouds of white bracts floating in the dense oak and hickory forest. Not long after they had peaked and started to leaf out, the remaining trees and shrubs, began to fill out in a deep emerald green that I hadn't seen since Scotland. We've gone from a barren stick-season park in the Missouri Ozarks to a lush midland forest park.

The main draw for many that come to Bennett Spring is fishing. The area has been a destination for trout anglers since the park opened in 1924, and every day finds anglers in waders up to their chests in the cool rushing waters of the spring branch. The hatchery in the park stocks the spring and the nearby river, and few come away without their limit, or at least enough trout for dinner.

We've met great people here, both from our volunteer time at the Nature Center and throughout the area. The park has hundreds of campsites, ranging from basic tent sites to full-hookup RV pull-throughs. There is good wifi in all the campgrounds - though it has an aggravating time-limiting feature. Understandable, but annoying. There are showers and laundry facilities for campers, and when warm weather really hits later this month, a large swimming pool. All in all, and wonderful family destination. Our 2016 host merit badges in our pockets, we have already applied to return next year in preparation for our trek east, through the Smokies and up the east coast.

We'll soon weigh anchor and begin our trip across Kansas and Colorado, hopscotching our way to Dinosaur National Monument. We'll set up on the banks of the Green River, and help campers there get the most of their experience in the high desert of Utah.

In my opinion, Missouri has some of the best state parks anywhere, and their web site is certainly among the best and most user-friendly. Our experiences in the Missouri Parks have been first-rate, and we can highly recommend the parks and historic sites all over Missouri.

Until next time, here are a few images of our time in Bennett Spring State Park.

More later when we hit the road again. Follow along if you like. Thanks for stopping by.

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