Sunday, June 14, 2009

Day 3 - Monument Rocks

Driving across Kansas even today gives you a stunning feel of what it was like for the Pioneers riding or walking behind their wagons on the way to the Rockies. Particularly in June, the long rolling vistas shimmer in a subtle green and blue haze that nearly defies the imagination with its vast scope.

The Jeep continued to just hum along. However, we were making more gasoline stops as our mileage dropped almost to 10 mpg, due somewhat to the long hills but more so to the fact it was just too easy to stay at the posted speed limit, 70. I had promised myself I wouldn’t tow faster than 60 or 65, but with the dual cam sway control system the jeep/trailer combo was rock solid.

We turned south at Oakley, to head down a two-lane to Scott State Park, 40 miles away in the flat distance. Scott SP is like an oasis in the desert, as you have no clue it’s there until you suddenly drop into the broad canyon seemingly appears right out of nowhere. The flat horizon gives no clue ahead of time that you are approaching a large lake surrounded by bluffs and rock outcroppings that were once used by the Plains Indians to herd buffaloes to their sudden deaths by forcing them to stampede over the unforeseen cliffs into the canyon.

We found a beautiful campsite, with water and electricity no less, overlooking the lake, and no crowds. After un-hitching, we drove out to Monument Rocks, following some very cool dirt roads with more great vistas of Kansas that you don’t get from the Interstate. We had perfect late afternoon light for this little photo safari, with a high blue sky dotted with a few cotton tufts of clouds.

Dinner was a turkey pot pie from the coffee shop and a couple of light Coors with a twist of lemon.

I figured I’d take a forced break from my computer, but guess what, when I got up the next morning and was a bit bored waiting for the coffee to finish, I fired up the laptop and the wireless card connected!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Day 2 - the Missouri

Wireless (G3)Internet connection at Lewis and Clark State Park along the Missouri River

First off let me admit that my geography is off by a few hundred miles. We crossed the Mississippi this morning (Thursday) at Hannibal, and this evening, after a pleasant and rather boring drive across Missouri on US 36, are camping on an oxbow lake where Lewis and Clark camped 205 years ago this July 4th on their way up the Missouri River. (I had the rivers reversed last night.)

The Jeep continues to be quite amazing. Can even use the cruise control in the rolling hills. Kansas tomorrow, mostly along I-70, so that should be even easier than today. Looking forward to seeing how it all handles in the mountains – I expect it to be a bit marginal in terms of serious uphill pulling power.

This evening after dinner we walked through a Lewis and Clark interpretation trail through some prairie, which was all very informative. Mosquitoes were among their most worrisome enemies!

We have another good Internet connection here – the AT&T wireless card is really cool.

Looking forward to tomorrow – I always like Kansas, with its rolling hills and broad vistas and high climbing sky; plus we’re camping at a very cool state park way out in the prairie. More on that tomorrow. But I doubt we’ll have a wireless connection – we’ll be 40 miles south of I-70 in literally just about the middle of nowhere.

It’s been really great to be able to make a trip like this without having to eat fast food. Cereal and strawberries from our garden for breakfast, black bean soup for lunch, and tonight more spaghetti and meatballs from the coffee shop plus a homebrewed lager with lemon. Tomorrow night is turkey pot pie, also from the coffee shop. Life is good.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Day 1 - Colorado Trip

Now we are indeed starting to feel like our retirement is upon us, because we are in Day 1 of a leisurely camping trip out to Colorado. Although several of my Facebook peers have derided me for not camping in a tent, I claim veterans’ rights – been there done that.

Our 4.7 liter Jeep Grand Cherokee today pulled our Jayfeather 27 footer with ease, getting about 11.5 miles to the gallon. The new Reese Towing System, with dual cam sway control, has made today’s driving, which included both narrow 2 lane as well as high speed Interstate, a real breeze. The Jeep has plenty of oomph, and the jeep/trailer combo feels rock solid. We’re sticking to the speed limit, which may explain the decent gas mileage.

We only drove about 200 miles today, because we didn’t start until 3 p.m., when Susan got home from work. We’re camping tonight at D&W Lake Campground, just north of Champaign, IL. Very pleasant. We’re sitting outside, drinking some homebrew, waiting for our meal from KenapocoMocah to heat up. Spaghetti with meatballs and garlic bread, plus fresh salad from the Fingerles – poor us.

Tomorrow we drive across Missouri and camp along the Mississippi River at Lewis and Clark State Park – where the explorers actually camped in 1804. I’ll probably post some pictures then. Then the next day we drive most of the way across Kansas, and stay at a state park near Monument Rocks, the old wagon train landmark. If the light is right, we’ll get some pictures.

We’re listening to a great book tape – The 19th Wife, about Mormans.

We’re sad to hear about the shooting at the Holocaust Museum – Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck and those people have blood on their hands – domestic terrorism has long been this country’s ugly little secret. We’ve been to the Holocaust Museum with our kids, so it’s really nasty to see these people trying to take away our freedoms.