Sunday, April 24, 2016

Pointing the Diesel Metal Tent permitting

      My friend Ted Litz and I camped 'primitive style' for several years throughout our adventures, be it fishing or deer camp.  These are some of my fondest memories.  We referred to the RVs that other folks used as 'metal tents'.  Funny how age and experience changes our viewpoint and our equipment in the great outdoors, but never the experience.  I miss Ted.  We had our last RV, a 31' Keystone Cougar that served us faithfully throughout the Lower 48 and Alaska for nearly 12 years and over 50,000 miles.  Our new Rockwood Windjammer 'McMansion' has served us very well this first winter, even with the inevitable adjustments to a new unit and new 'furbabies' as well.  The quality of our travels and experience has not suffered in the least. 
     Following friends on Facebook I have noticed that MOST of the snow has gone from our area at home except for the large, plowed piles, but I know there will be a few more storms coming even though we were tempted to head north early.  We'll get there when we get there.....about the end of April.  We will make our eventual turn to the north shortly. 
      Spent over 3 weeks in Missouri visiting with Barb's family while the furbabies and I did some local exploring, including some geocaching and rockhounding.  We stayed at the Wildwood RV Park in Dexter, MO very near her family.  They do not have a website presence, but it is a nice, clean park with decent rates....$395/month.  There were no close boondocking opportunities here.  Last year we found several very nice Lake Superior Agates on gravel roads.  This surprised me till my research showed that these 'Lakers' are found as far south as Missouri.  The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is just the northern edge of the range.  More evidence of the massive land contours the glaciers created millions of years ago. 
The finest Banded Agate I found during my time in SE Missouri
      At one time the county roads in this area got their gravel from several pits on Crowley's Ridge just west of town.  This high ridge of ground is the most famous geological feature on the entire Mississippi River, running from SE Missouri down thru NE Arkansas.  It contains many fine geological specimens that both the glaciers and river not only formed, but relocated once upon a time.  However, all of the pits have closed and MODOT was only able to tell me where one other pit was located.  All of these pits I found to be closed and one even guarded.  We did find several more fine agates as well as some very nice Jasper and even some petrified wood while visiting good friends Nick and Martha Garuccio who live north in the Marquand area.  In the end just walking gravel roads turned out very well. 
      Barb spent quite a bit of time staying with her sisters visiting leaving me to do the 'bachelor thing'.  No remorse here:  gizzards, peppers, nachos, rice, and the complaints.  On the NCAA Basketball Championship night I decided to stay in, watch the game on the "RV- Tube" and put together a quick pot of  "Whatever I Could Find Jambalaya".  I found some frozen chunks of gator, spicy pork sausage, chicken broth, brown rice, and added a few chunks of cottage bacon from home.  I did cheat a bit as I began with Louisiana brand Cajun Jambalaya Mix.  I just put it all together with some extra onion, garlic, Tony Chachere's seasoning, some home grown sun-dried tomatoes and BAM!   Yumdogees!  Really not that fattening (although the Barley Pops were) and NOBODY TO WATCH ME EAT SECONDS EITHER.  Roux and Bones don't seem to get the same thrill of me being in the kitchen that I do.  By the way.......WHAT A GAME!
            It is still a great time to enjoy casseroles, soups, stews, and the like.  Held captive to my culinary charms, Barb was forced to endure Chicken Sopita Soup with Tillamook Texas Beef Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and a big old pot of Great Northern Beans, Ham, and Cornbread.

Chicken Sopita Soup w/Tillamook Texas Beef Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Great Northern Beans and Ham
      We have been keeping a close eye on the weather to the north as spring hasn't really committed to arriving AND STAYING in the Great Lakes region just yet.  Unfortunately, once again we delayed our departure from SE Missouri for another 3 days due to incoming storms here.  It is springtime here ya'll which means thunderstorms, but thankfully nothing more severe.   
      Finally, after 25 days we got back on the road NORTHBOUND.......stopping near Festus, MO (Indian Trail Campground   $25/day....rating: bare essentials only) for 2 nights to visit Barb's Uncle Ronnie and then again in Keokuk, IA (Chatfield County Park!9299&query=sitedetails  $20/day.....rating:  electric & water w/RV dump station in a nicely wooded quiet setting just a couple miles out of town.  Very nice for the money) for 2 nights to visit her Uncle Bill.  Good folks.  Roux loved this camping spot, plenty of inviting woods to explore. 
An interesting side note:  We got our propane refilled at the Hawkeye Restaurant in town.  The camp host at the park told me he has the best prices in town.  I found it odd that a restaurant also sold propane so I asked.  The owner converted his truck to propane several years ago when the prices shot up, but found it increasingly difficult to find places to refill his truck.  So the local Ferrellgas distributer offered to put in a fill station for him where he could also sell to help defray his costs......
      Enroute we stopped at the Isle of Capri Casino on the banks of the Mississippi at the Iowa Wisconsin border. A nice place, but a rather small parking lot to make space in.  There was supposed to be 3 free 30 amp hookups (first come first served), but I'll be darned if I could find them.  That's ok, solar is just fine. 
      After contributing part of our retirement to the local gaming establishment we came home and I finally perfected a recipe for Wild Boar Fajitas.  I have tried several different methods the past 15 months to no avail.......tender pretty much, tasty no.  This one is the real deal.  Sliced thin, marinated in Tony Chachere's Roasted Garlic Injectable Marinade for at least 24 hours, then sizzled with sliced sweet peppers, onion,  and chopped mango.  Served with Feta Guacamole on the side and fresh tortillas, delicious!
      Within another days travel we finally arrived in Waupaca, WI at our BFFs for a week of great relaxation and FREE MOOCHDOCKING!   We have known Mark and Robyn for over 40 years.  They live on the banks of the Crystal River in Central Wisconsin, beautiful country.  They also own the 3 acres across the road where he built a softball field/picnic area and a small RV camping area (with water, electric, porta-potty and free WiFi) for about 5 units. 
Camp Zepplin
      We spent the week relaxing, catching up, eating and drinking well, and of course shopping.  Additionally I got some nice black and white photography work done.

         Robyn made a terrific lasagna one night and on another I roasted a beautiful Cook's ham glazed with Boar's Head Brown Sugar & Spice Glaze over the fire pit.   Mark's store had an open house one of the nights we were in town with the theme "Farm & Country".  We stopped by for the snacks and the tour, but couldn't help "yanking our favorite worker's chain". 
     Always a fun stop to catch up and relax, we bid adieu to our BFFs and headed north to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  Perhaps a day or two of Lake Superior relaxation or some casino time for my lady. 

"Looking back at my life's voyage, I can only say that it has been a golden trip"
Ginger Rogers            

WiFi courtesy of Verizon MiFi

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