The day started out as any typical moving day.
Get dressed, eat breakfast, move all shifty items to safer ground, bring in slide-outs, empty holding tanks, do a walk around, hook-up the truck, un-plug from electric, do another walkaround . . . .
Not normal - "John, does this tire look low to you?" John replies, "Maybe a little. Let me get out the tire gauge". After finding three tire gauges that no longer work, John said those stomach wrentching words, "Why yes Christine, the tire is flat - 50 psi". "What is it suppose to be"? was my reply. "75 to 80". "@%*@#%$*@"!!!! I replied.
So much for our early start.
The good news was that we were still in our site, not on the side of the interstate, and the kids could go to the playground to play. The bad news was that someone reserved our spot for that day, and we had to be out of there ASAP. So I did what any girl does - I called my Mom and Dad. After being able to talk things out, we had a plan, so I put the slide outs back out, fixed lunch, and began rummaging through all the paperwork that came with the camper. Come to find out, we were covered by not just one but three different emergancy roadside policies. Talk about being over insured. We had our automobile/camper insurance ($100 deducable), we had the dealership insurance ($200 deductable), and the manufactures one year warranty (FREE), so you know which one I called first :) And I couldn't have been happier. The lady on the phone was so nice, and within an hour she had Goodyear tire and repair out to our camper, on a Sunday afternoon no less. The repairman was super nice and had our flat tire off, screw pulled out, tire patched, and back on the camper in less than 40 minutes. What a great experience for such a crappy start. I would definately recommend the Forest River Coachnet membership to anyone.
So, even though we were a little late getting started and had to stop four times (in just a 200 mile stretch) for potty breaks, we still arrived at Lake Grenada before dark. We have driven by this exit everytime we visited Biloxi but never had a reason to stop, which is too bad because the lake is a really neat area. Senic route 332 goes right over a beautiful Dam, which over looks an oak lowland.
We stayed at the North Abutment COE campground, and were not disappointed. They have beautiful full-service hook-ups right on the lake with nice bathhouses and a brand new playground area. We were actually camped over in the wooded area to the right in the pictures but decided the next time we stay we will be over in the water area.
Although we only stayed two nights, this is definately a redo. We spent most of our time here repacking, cleaning, and crossing things off the honey-do list. We were just too anxious to get to Biloxi to really stay and enjoy the area (it's been two years since we have seen MawMaw, PawPaw, the Big Girls, and our grandsons).
Even though the day started out rough, alls well that ends well, and who could stay mad with a view like that.
T.O. Fuller State park, which is located on the south side of Memphis around 2 p.m. after an easy drive from Poplar Bluff. The park was easy to get into, and John did another amazing job backing the beast into our spot.
As part of our Oak Meadow curriculm, the kids create a seasonal table, so they made a beautiful plate of autumn things, and have been adding their favorite findings. It is nice for me because now instead of them dragging all thier cool stuff inside they have a special place to put it, and the best part is the stuff stays outside.
The park itself has a lot to offer with wonderful hiking trails, and some ancient Native American mounds. One evening we set out about an hour before sunset on a short hike, and the fall forest was wonderfull. We also found the cutest little acrons to add to our nature tray, as you can tell by my fingers, they were teeny, tiny little things - perfect for making fairy caps.
Mud Island, which was so much fun! We didn't even make it inside the actual museum because the Mississippi River replica was so fasinating to walk. This was better than any classroom or park we have ever been in and it was FREE. A definate must see for kids. We also took a lunch with us, and ate where the Mississippi River dumps into the Gulf of Mexico.
Juice Plus conference, which was a blast. The kids had a great time socializing in the family room with other healthy Juice Plus kids, and John and I learned so much more about how good nutrition really changes the body on a cellular level. Plus the kids got to say they seen Elvis :)
The sunshine, the people, and the food - that is what makes life in the south so great, and I do believe we have crossed over.
We could not have asked for more beautiful weather, and after having such a cold drizzly time in St. Louis, we were ready for some sunshine. We spent everyday outside soaking up our Vitimin D, and energizing our metabolism. Lake Wappappello has a lot to offer. We played on the playgrounds - we got to three of them and know of two we didn't get to visit. We played volleyball at two of the three sand courts. We hiked two trails - both easy hiking, found two geochaches, lounged in our hammoucks, and hung out the laundry to dry. We even got in some S'mores, and sat out listening to the owls. It really was perfect weather.
We also met some really nice people. One of the nice things about camping during the off season, and during the week is that we get to meet the people who get things done. Our neighbors, Sam and Sherry, are volunteers here, and they made our stay extra special. One day Sherry even brought over goodies for the kids from a local bake sale - I am mean LOTS of them. Thank-you Sherry, they loved having Oreo pops for breakfast :) Typically we eat healthy breakfasts like smoothies, or steel-cut oats but it always special when we can add a bit of sugar with the smoothy. At the very kid friendly visitors center, there was a volunter who took an extra special interest in the kids and showed them around like they were royalty, and at the end each of the kids got a Junior Ranger COE badge. And people worry about our kids being socialized - REALLY???????!!!!!!!!
Food - Oh how we love the food. On Friday, the town of Poplar Bluff has their farmers market, so we slid in and got fresh green beans, turnups, pumpkins, and jalopino peppers, and boy were they all good. It was nice getting fresh produce, since we hadn't had any for a while. When we left Iowa, we dontated our Tower Gardens to the local school because the gardens were just too big to take traveling with us :( So I have been going through produce withdrawls. The greenbeans cooked up so nice in my new Insta Pot, and I wish we would have gotten twice as much. We also drove into a Sonic for a Cherry Limeade and Onion-rings, which is our special southern treat.
I leave you with this video.
We actually pulled up into the parking garage for the Gateway Arch, got out, put all our rain gear on (it is about a 3 block walk from the parking garage to the Arch), stepped out to the edge of the overhang, watched the rain coming down sidewys for about 5 minutes, and decided the national monument wasn't worth our own personal discomfort, so we loaded a couple screaming, and disappointed kids into the Tahoe and pressed on.
The Magic House (St. Louis Children's Museum) was next on our list, and once we got there I think the kids completely forgot about The Arch. The Magic House lives up to its name. We spent 3 hours in kiddy Valhalla.
One of my problems while on the road is settling in. I always feel like we might be missing out on some great cultural or educational opportunity we might never see again. I want to jam as much adventure in as possible.
Last night we got into St. Louis (Scott AFB), and before I even drank my coffee this morning, I got on my Ipad to see what the hours were for the Gateway Arch, The Childrens Museum, The Cahoka Mounds, and The Zoo. But what I kept thinking was how nice it would be to have a down day. A lazy Sunday. After several hours of hem-hawing, we decided to forget the sightseeing and enjoy the beauty of US. I lounged on the couch - for the first time ever - watching Sunday afternoon football, and enjoying my view.
Maybe it is because it is a drizzly day or maybe it is because I realize this is our home (not just a vacation camper) that allowed me to slow down and relax. I am not going to feel guilty about letting the kids play in their room, or letting the dishes pile up, or ordering out.
And look what happened when I just let the kids do whatever
Maia drew a picture of our campsite - the road, grass, shower-house, and the camper.
I became to subject of a hair clip fashion show,
I am going to finish enjoying my snuggling and lounging.
Southeast Iowa has so many great things about it. Having grown-up here, I take a lot of them for granted, and only now as we are beginning our southward migration, do I really appriciate them. One of them is the small rural town in the fall. The bake sales and fall colors are my favorites right now.
Before finally leaving Iowa, we have decided to stop and stay in the little town on Wapello, which sits right on Highway 61. We are staying at the local fairgrounds - full hook-up on a cement pad for only $10 a night. Gotta love these small town rates. Not only is it a great little find but they have a free dump station, and a playground for the kids right out our door.
John enjoyed playing ball and disk golf in the crisp autunm evenings with the kids at the wide open field to the west. In it's prime, the field was home to one of the few horse harness racing tracks in Iowa.
With-in walking distance there is a Casey's General Store, a local Mexican restaurant, a tavern with food, a Dollar Store, and great views of the Iowa river - all of which we would visit again.
These kinds of days make it harder and harder to leave the Midwest; however, John does not own a pair of pants, only shorts, and he says, "If I can't wear my shorts because I'm too cold, then it is time to move further south". AND since he is the driver, I guess our stay here will be over soon.