What we have learned, is that this early in the season, at least in the midwest, campgrounds empty out during the weekdays. Yay!
Our first morning in the Ozark National Forest, I got to nest for a while in the camper, putting things in their proper spaces and organizing the chaos in the truck. About a month before this trip, I'd been pretty diligent about preparations, getting modifications finished in the HodgePod, organizing a variety of things for our extended departure. But all my careful timelines went awry, as my father, Stanley, passed away on the second Friday of April. He had been in hospice since the beginning of the year, and he ended his twenty year struggle with Parkinson's Disease on Good Friday. The next week was spent with my mom, Ann, and the rest of my family, preparing for Dad's funeral. Doug and I returned home five days before our departure for this trip. We managed to get things well enough organized to leave when we planned to, but things were more chaotic than I would have hoped.
But back to the Ozarks. Doug and I, with no park maps or cell service, took our chances with Forest Service roads to get some hiking in. The roads dead ended pretty quickly and hiking the powerline right-of-way, while pretty, wasn't the most fun ever. Regardless, it was a lovely forest and got our heart rates up. As we passed by the Camp Host site (we'd tried to locate them the day before, at that morning to investigate a fishing license for Doug), we noticed that they were still not at home. Odd. We never did see them in 2.5 days.
As the afternoon wore on, we had an all important ceremony at our campsite. We finally installed our "states visited" decal! This was a Christmas gift from Doug's lovely sister, Lynn Marie. We also have plans to add the Canada province stickers as well!
Doug and I have had some serious conversations as to what qualifies a state to be "stickered". While we are still arguing, here are the basic guidelines:
- With exception of Hawaii, the HodgePod must be the p.rime camping vehicle. (It's possible that Doug is slightly envious of my 49 states already visited.)
- Sleeping overnight in a state or province qualifies for a sticker
- If just driving though the state (and not spending the night), so epic stop must be made to qualify for a sticker. For instance, the REALLY BIG THINGS in Casey, IL qualify.
- More ridiculous options will surely be added.
Day one of this trip got Illinois and Missouri and Arkansas was marked off the list on May 1.
We managed a second hike before dinner, through the campground, and located a lovely trail that led us along Big Piney Creek and to a gorgeous waterfall. It was a fine way to bid farewell to the Ozarks.
As we hiked back to our campsite, we found the the gauge on Big Piney Creek.
My iPhone couldn't quite focus on the numbers, but we could see that the water was just about at 6. That's one foot over the DANGEROUS level.
Ridiculous Road Trip #1, Part 4 is next!