Saturday, October 8, 2016

2nd Star to the Left and Straight onTill Morning....

      After 6 wonderful months at home in beautiful NW Michigan we hit the road.  Truck and RV are fully serviced, washed, waxed, and all our stuff is packed.  We have both the onboard and Engel freezers stocked to include:  10 packs asparagus, 13 packs corn, 6 packs broccoli, 10 packs green beans, 10 packs Tasso, 11 packs Cudighi, 10 packs whitefish, and 1 pack oxtail.  We also prepared and froze individual meals of Crab n Corn Bisque, Wild Boar Mac n Cheese, Wild Boar Ham, and New Mexico Manicotti, and 6 packs of frozen Pastys.  This always helps to defer costs and ease meal prep for several months.  A to Z, soup to nuts, we head out.  You are never fully prepared as everybody always forgets something.....which makes retirement travel all the more an adventure, yet without measurable stress.  McMansion is cleared for departure.....US 131 South. 
      We depart this fall with hearts full of hope and prayers for my best friend in Wisconsin who has been battling several serious health issues throughout the summer.  We spent a week with him the early part of September doing everything from preparing meals, painting, running errands, and just good old moral support.  Much still needs to happen for a full recovery, but the latest round of medical referrals bring much improved news and hope. 
      We accomplished quite a bit this summer with all our projects and several camping trips tucked in there, but it is always good to head out knowing that this voyage is long.  Autonomous on the road....we have grown to love it. 
     We have no true itinerary.  We have long range plans to venture north to Alaska again next spring so this winter will still be filled with adventures, but with a truly boondocking, austere flavor.  Lots of adventure, very little frills.  There will still be lots of hunting, fishing, and relaxing.  Joie de Vivre! 
     Roux looks forward to her first year of chasing quail and pheasant in Oklahoma and Kansas.  Bones on the other hand relishes another winter of good weather, plenty of relaxing, being spoiled, and of course re-familiarizing his sister with the food chain. 
      Our itinerary enabled us to boondock at new places and still visit some family on the way. 

Wal Mart Pontiac, ILOur original plan had us stopping at Des Plaines WMA just south of Joliet, IL, but unfortunately (and this is becoming an all too familiar story) the campground was closed several years back due to lack of funding.  So we ventured another 40 miles further south on I-55 to the town of Pontiac. You really can't beat pitching your wigwam at Wally World for a quick, safe overnighter. 

Freedom Lake:  Our stop here coincided with visiting two of Barb's cousins in Waterloo and Valmeyer, Illinois.  Close to family and convenient....what can I say?  This family owned campground is quite a bit out in the country on a privately owned lake.  We had free access to our own pavilion with a fire pit (with wood) as well as free fishing for stocked bass, crappie, bluegill, and catfish.  Full hookups at a bit steep price of $35/night.  I have to admit this is one of the prettiest, quietest, scenic RV parks we've ever stayed at.  We had a great visit with Barb's cousins, Beverly and Stephanie, and their families.  Lots of catching up and pizza made for a nice evening. 

Malden, MO Airport RV Park:  We try to stay here when visiting Barb's immediate family. Simple and bare bones, but with full hookups and close proximity for our needs at $84 a week!  The airport has a great museum of the local WW 2 aeronautical history which is a 'must see'. 
NOTE:  The campground is grass with trees, but does have lots of sand burrs so make sure to put out your RV yard mat and take off/brush your shoes before entering the RV. 
For scale:  the sites are large, these folks only occupied half a spot

      One great thing about being back in Missouri is being able to enjoy Chicken Gizzards and Red Diamond Ice Tea.  Although Barb spent much of her time visiting her sisters we did enjoy Crab & Corn Chowder, Whitefish, and Beef Pastys w/gravy.  I am once again trying seriously to lose some weight so I am applying the Weight Watchers Point System.  It's all a matter of portion control, a change of lifestyle and discipline........lots of discipline, especially when traveling.  I even had enough bonus points left for a modest catfish dinner our last night in town.

Neosho, MO City Park (Hickory Creek RV Park):  Another stop in SW Missouri to visit Barb's cousin and his family.  Very nice city park with 10 electric and water site hookups with a central RV dump station......$12/day.  Large grassy fields, but very little shade.  A nice park.  Fees are paid at the City Hall in town, but since we arrived on a Saturday and Monday is a holiday, I guess we'll see.  Probably stay an extra day or two cause who the hell is in a hurry?  We love visiting with Stephen and his family.  We always feel welcome in Neosho and I am excited for the opportunity to photograph their daughter Maddy.  What a cutie!

      We averaged a very nice 14.3 mpg towing for this first segment of our winter journey.  Cheapest diesel was $2.15 in Dexter, MO.  From here we head into Oklahoma, staying along both the shores of Robert S. Kerr Lake on the Arkansas River, as well as either Billy Creek or Cedar Lake in the Ozarks before ending up at Lake Thunderbird just east of Oklahoma City.  We plan on relaxing, shopping, catfishing, and visiting with some very good Air Force retiree friends for a couple of weeks prior to bird hunting season.

"The gladdest moment in human life, methinks, is a departure into unknown lands"
                                                                           Sir Richard Burton

WiFi courtesy of Verizon MiFi

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