Destination: Mark Twain National Forest, Missouri
The rising sun and boisterous Ohio birds woke us up about 5:30 but we were eager to hit the road, so it wasn’t a problem. (We had already taken down the awning the night before, much to the dismay of the Dancing Baby one campsite over.) We showered at the campground showers and headed out at 6:30. Found a Dunkin Donuts in Springville and had coffee and a bite while Len uploaded a timesheet for work (he’s putting in some part-time hours to ease the transition for the new person). A rosy sunrise over the lake was our parting tableau.
By noon, we were hungry and had hummus and veggies (sweet pepper slices and long radishes from our wonderful, local, Root Down Farm), a cheese stick each, and some turkey pepperoni. All of which is incredibly boring to read about, I’m sure, but when you’re stuck in a vehicle all day, the big highlights are: thinking about what to eat, eating, then describing what you’ve eaten.
We hit lots of road construction outside of St. Louis which delayed us by about an hour—or forty-eight minutes, depending on which of the dueling GPSs in Command Central you choose to put your faith in.
We arrived at a VERY dusty Mark Twain National Forest at 5:15 local time. Had a bit of trouble finding the spot but got personally guided in by a Forrest Gumpish fellow who was super talkative and exacting in his details and directions. It seemed to disappoint him when we chose the “wrong” campsite according to his thoughts of what we needed, but he was cheerful enough about our flawed decision-making processes. He then chose his own site just through the woods and proceeded to erect what must have been a steel-frame, two-story cabin. Over the course of 45 minutes, many, many metal stakes were completely, thoroughly, and cheerfully pounded in.
Our actual campsite (#8) was a quiet spot (after Forrest was done), elevated from the gravel road and designed for horse trailers but worked great for our handy-dandy TC Teardrop. We backed in (and up) then cranked the car and trailer into a 90-degree angle which seemed like a good idea…except the fuel rotopax then obstructed the Jeep hatchback, and we had our first minor bloodletting while attempting to maneuver a way to open the Jeep hatch. Lesson learned.
Dinner was a fresh salad (I packed lots of pre-washed greens and cut up accessories so the whole thing was pretty painless) with cheese and smoked turkey and that was enough for us both. Sitting all day, it turns out, does not burn many calories, especially when it’s 89 degrees out. I did some yoga on my new, cushy outdoor mat, much to the confusion of some good-old-boys en route to their campsite.
The evening’s entertainment was provided by a hyperactive Whip-poor-will and a sexed-up bullfrog who serenaded us into the wee hours. In other words, a delightful symphony by which to fall asleep. Thanks, Nature!
Notes to Self: My daily meditation suggested focusing on empathy as a way into happiness, but empathy is not usually a problem for me. If anything, I need to tone down my empathy so as to get through the day without feeling the suffering of every drowning bug, wilting plant, or overheated cow. I do find myself having some trouble with meditations that involve visualization, though, which seems odd for a fiction writer who has to visualize entire made-up worlds. But I think I’ve figured out that at least some of the issue is with what I’m being asked to visualize. An expanding circle of light isn’t “concrete” enough for my brain, but I’ve found that if I change that to a flickering violet flame, it works much better. Must be the wilderness backpacker/potter in me. Fire, I get.
Random Gearhead Stuff:
- TPMS (Tire pressure monitoring system) sensors on the Jeep are driving us batty. Pressure is fine, sensors keep going off. Grrr. Too much technology! Also, my iPhone decided to freak out and force me to do a cold reboot which has never happened before, so there’s that. I’m relying on it 100% for photos and uploading. Sure hope that was a one-time glitch.
- The solar panel on the toolbox has become my baby. Each time we stop for fuel or for the night I check to see if it needs cleaning. Can’t make solar energy through a layer of dirt.
- During the night, our fridge cut off because of “low-battery strength.” Quite alarming, that, since we have a ton of food in the freezer, but Len checked the fridge manual and it’s a safety setting designed to keep from completely draining your battery. You can choose the threshold (Low, Medium, High) for when it cuts off so he changed the tolerance setting from 12.2 to 11.2. (Lowest being 10.2)
- The trailer battery has fluctuated a ton, anywhere from 14.1 to 11.8 (Len says it hasn’t gotten that low, but I swear I thought I saw that reading.) It drops when the fridge cuts on then seems to recover a bit, but last night was a bit long without power or sunlight (it was a shady campsite). Still lots to figure out with this puppy.
- Our fuel efficiency (mostly highway miles) seems to hover in the range of 14.5mpg. We’re content with those numbers and aware that they will likely drop when we hit mountainous terrain.
Tomorrow’s Destination: Scott Lake State Park, Kansas