I laughed when I looked at the blog this morning, seeing all the silly mistakes I made. Writing when worn out can be a bit strange. I shouldn’t be worn out tonight, but somehow I am. Last night was a quiet and early evening, with only a couple of short walks with Mattie before we settled in to read. Neither of us felt much like watching any tv and I still had the rest of the blog to finish.
It was 11:30 when I finally finished doing photos and writing. Someone mentioned in a previous comment or email that they were impressed with my ability to keep up with my writing while we were traveling. I really have no choice. The words are rolling around in my head and won’t let me sleep until they are written down. It is the same tonight. I would love to just go to sleep, even though it is only 6:30 Central Time, but if I did that, the day would slip away in another blur.
It was a really good day.
It began early, but not too early. Traveling through different time zones I become acutely aware of the difference location makes within a time zone in the rising and setting of the sun. It was after 7 when the skies were light enough for me to go wandering through the Camp-A-Way RV park to take some photos. Mo said no one will really care what it was like 15 years ago, but somehow I do. Things change everywhere, in cities I once knew, in neighborhoods and suburbs, and in the world in general. But the shifts in a place I haven’t seen or even thought about over the years can be a bit shocking.
This was our site in 2007 at Camp-A-Way RV park
Mo and I stayed in Camp-A-Way RV Park with the baby MoHo in 2007, when I was teaching Basic Soil Survey in Lincoln, Nebraska, where a National Soil Survey Center housed training classes for people throughout the country. Mo spent days exploring while I taught, and I returned home in the evening after classes. At that time the park was delightful, clean, and comfortable, with huge grassy slopes covered with deep, lush green grass. Sadly Mo discovered later that the lovely grass had a hidden enemy and it took her weeks to get rid of the chiggers that attacked her while sitting on that grass.
I barely recognized the park when we drove in, and this morning walking around in the early light, I could see why. The park has evolved into a fun place for kids and families to camp, and enjoy campfires and many kinds of water games, kids activities, and the swimming pool. In addition, more than 25 new big rig pull-through sites have been created on the big meadow where Mo relaxed with Abby so many years ago. It is a decent place to stay, with good services, and a great location for being close to Lincoln, but definitely is a bit too crowded for our taste. It reminds me of what I imagine a Jellystone Park will be. Sadly, we have reservations for one of those parks somewhere on the east coast where we couldn’t find anything else. As I said, great parks for kids and families.
As we motored south from Lincoln this morning, I was a bit sad that I was driving, because I couldn’t take pictures. People who don’t know Nebraska think of it as flat and featureless, but Eastern Nebraska near its boundary with Iowa and the Missouri River is anything but. I would have loved to have taken photos of the rolling, green landscape. It is so lush and clean, with well-kept farms spread about in the distance and crops growing thick and strong. Yes, corn, soybeans, and more corn and soybeans, but with the trees between the fields, the rolling hills, and small ponds and waterways dissecting the landscape, it is beautiful.
Lied Lodge, Nebraska City, Nebraska
I loved coming to Lincoln to teach as well as to learn. One year I participated in special training for the job I hoped to have someday. (Two years later I took that promotion). We were housed at a beautiful venue called Lied Lodge, an Arbor Day Farm, surrounded by a lush landscape and magnificent botanical forests with dozens of varieties of hardwood trees. As I drove quietly through the landscape this morning, I was filled with memories and with gratitude for all the amazing people I worked with, some of whom became lifelong friends. I would never choose to live in the Midwest, but if I had to make the choice, I would choose Lincoln. The university brings in great people, and the city is clean and eco-conscious, bisected by extensive bike trails.
That is me on the right teaching new soil scientists Basic Soil Survey skills near Lincoln, Nebraska in 2009
It would not be fun for me to be a vegetarian in Lincoln, with some of the best steak houses I have ever experienced. I so loved going out to eat with my co-workers when we were in Lincoln. Nothing quite as good as Nebraska beef. We drove by the Saturday Market this morning, with people setting up canopies in the Haymarket District. It was probably the best Farmer’s Market I ever enjoyed, putting Eugene and Portland to shame.
It always amazes me how quickly a landscape changes at political boundaries. I guess those boundaries do sometimes have physical reasons for being where they are. In the case of Nebraska and Iowa, it is the Missouri River. Once we crossed the river we immediately left behind the gently rolling landscape for a wide, very flat alluvial plain, almost featureless except for a few bluffs above the higher river terrace to the east. We weren’t in Iowa for long, however, within just a few miles traveling I-29 south, we crossed into Missouri. The featureless plain disappeared once we again crossed the Missouri River and traveled into the green rolling hills of Missouri farm country. The absolute heart of America. Lush with crops that were riper than what we saw in Nebraska, the huge fields with small signs naming the crops were interspersed with hardwood forests thick with so many varieties of trees we couldn’t name them all.
We stopped for a short snack lunch at Casey’s Truck Stop, switched drivers, and continued south. Our destination was east of Kansas City, and google girl tried to route us right through the city. I wasn’t interested in doing that and re-navigated for a different route that was only 12 minutes longer yet avoided the busy interstates. Highway 36 and Highway 41 were uncrowded roads with smooth pavement and very few people. Dotted with farms and an occasional tiny community, it was probably the easiest driving of our trip so far.
When we arrived at our location, Arrow Rock State Historic Site, we knew that we were about an hour too early to check in to the campground. Instead, we thought we might try to see the small town that has been so lovingly preserved by the Arrow Rock Historic Society. What we didn’t realize is that the extremely narrow streets had no room for parking a motorhome, even a small one, much less a motorhome towing a car. An attempt to drive up one street ended in a big problem when we discovered that even though the street wasn’t blocked, it was separated from Main Street by a very deep, rocky drainage ditch. Even a car might have a hard time getting across that ditch. We unhooked the Tracker, backed down the narrow road, and decided to try to find some other location to park the MoHo and visit the town with the baby car.
In our search, we happened on the driveway to the visitor center, 1/4 mile beyond where we had turned in for the town. The parking lot was huge, and with temps in the high 90s and humidity to match, we turned on the generator so that Mattie could wait safely in the rig while we attempted to learn more about this town we were trying to visit.
The heat was intense, as was the chill air-conditioned air of the Visitor Center. Speaking with the head person at the desk, she told us it shouldn’t be a problem for us to check in early at the campground. After checking on the guests from the previous night, she gave us the go-ahead to go to the park early and set up camp.
This worked out perfectly, and within minutes, another 1/4 mile down the road, we found our site, hooked up the rig, and turned on the air conditioner. Mattie could wait for us in a nice cool spot while we drove back in the car to explore the historic town.
From the Missouri State Parks brochure: “The town of Arrow Rock was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1963. An integral part of this historic town is Arrow Rock State Historic Site, with a visitor center museum that tells about Arrow Rock and the historic “Boone’s Lick Country”. Once a thriving riverport, the town is dotted with architectural treasures from the past. Limestone gutters of carefully carved blocks line the main street, marking the toil of earlier generations. Wooden sidewalks and overhead canopies still line storefronts, recalling an aura of times long past.”
We enjoyed walking a bit of the town, despite the heat.
The ice cream shop was a favorite, owned by a young man and his wife who relocated from Northern California after losing their home to fire 4 years ago. He was friendly and talkative and I enjoyed hearing his story. It is always interesting to me why people choose to uproot their lives for such a big change. He told me they love the 4 seasons and enjoy not having to evacuate their home over and over again due to fire. They love the green. However, as I would, they miss the mountains and the ocean. Still, he seemed happy. When they first came to Arrow Rock the business was a pizza place, but COVID changed that and after being closed for some time, they re-opened as an ice cream shop with truly delicious homemade ice cream.
We explored a few more of the shops before getting back in the car to find some of the other historic sites in town.
The Big Spring was especially lovely.
We drove to the old ferry crossing but discovered that the walk to the Missouri River was over a mile and the bugs were thick in the air. I was completely worn out from the heat and my legs were refusing to work properly, so we gave up and headed home to the campground.
It is now 1 AM. The heat and humidity wore us out and after a quick supper, Mo and I were in bed and actually asleep by 7:30. The air conditioner was going full blast to keep the inside at 78 degrees or so, but the noise kept us from hearing the amazing night sounds that I am hearing now.
I woke at 12:30 and discovered that the night air was a blessed 76 degrees, warmer than the MoHo which was struggling to remain at a reasonable sleeping temperature. Opening the windows, turning on the Fantastic Fan overhead, and shutting down the air conditioner was wonderful. I stepped outside and saw stars and the Milky Way and was serenaded by the many sounds of crickets, frogs, and other night creatures in the darkness. Magical. I wish I could stay out there for a bit, but am not a fan of all those bugs that make those wonderful sounds.
Tomorrow we will cross Missouri, camping once again at a favorite park in Henderson, Kentucky, where we camped on our cross-country trip in 2014. I am expecting hot, humid weather all the way to Delaware. Hopefully, the nights may cool down even a little bit as we continue east.