Past Houses Farms & Fields

Pahrump was fun! Julie & I had a blast hanging with Pam & Billy, enjoying the company of their family and each other. Can’t say we really did a helluva lot but they were good times! A few days were stupidly hot but the week ended in beautiful weather. All-in-all, we had a great time!

Julie and I headed out from Lakeside Casino RV Park Monday late morning and an hourish later I dropped her off at McCarran airport to catch her flight back to DFW. I kept rolling, planning to spend the night in Flagstaff. Anxious Arizona changed that plan, as they had enacted a statewide nighttime curfew. With no place to hang for a brew or dinner I just kept heading east until I reached curfew time near Petrified Forest National Park.

The Great State of New Mexico’s Roads
The Great State of New Mexico’s Roads

That couple-hour mileage gain put me ahead of schedule for the next day and my original plan to reach Las Vegas, NM was completed by about 1pm so I just kept going eastbound and down, bouncing across northeast New Mexico, a corner of Oklahoma and into Kansas.

 

The unremarkable stretch of southwest Kansas into Dodge City rolled slowly by. I noticed all the grain silos were on the west side of the highway. When I mentioned this Shelley suggested it was because railway tracks were on the west side; finally made more sense than mere coincidence. After a long drive of 12.5 hours I backed into a mediocre site at the Dodge City KOA. It was good enuf for a quick overnight.

Wednesday was truly a day spent “rolling past houses, farms and fields” as I crossed Kansas on US400. Good road overall and got pretty nice winding through a few hills as I neared Missouri. With rain clouds in my mirror I pulled into the heavily wooded Springfield KOA and let them deliver a pretty decent pizza to my site. Early morning storms threatened to throw tree branches onto my rig but the ones that did fall thankfully missed me.

My eastward trek contributed through the Ozarks into western Kentucky and the pretty Kentucky and Bartley Lakes region. I overnighted at at campground I had stayed at before on the east shore of Lake Bartley. Synko got a bath but my clothes did not, as Kentucky apparently is one of the states that overreacted to corona; the campground laundry facility was closed. In the end that gained me about $25 as I griped that they had not informed me of the loss of that amenity. (I also griped about the narrow site they gave me and the flaky power that they had to fix. Management was good to honor my request and I’ll return to that nice campground,)

After a short 90 minute drive Saturday into Nashville I settled into the KOA resort near Opryland where Shelley & Brett joined me in the site next to mine. And that’s where the trip currently finds me this beautiful Sunday morning. Church online is on in 30 so I’ll sign off here and pick up in a week or so after we’ve searched out a distillery or two! Cheers!

Table Rock Lake

Spending a week on the clear, warm waters of Table Rock Lake at Port of Kimberling in Missouri with Julie & Brad, Rachael & Roman. We convoyed up here Sunday and have gotten pretty good at doing pretty little. Nice campground, although the site I’m in was a bear to get settled into; it is just a mismatch of trees & slides placements. But after a reset, all is good. Just chillaxing today after running up & down the lake yesterday and searing some skin in the sun Monday—and getting bit by a fish. It’s actually kinda cool today with thunderstorms thinking about making some noise.

I tried to find a brewery in Branson Monday afternoon but, sadly, struck out. Branson seems to be more of a Cracker Barrel and buffet kinda place… not so much into the world of craft brews. That’s okay; my few weeks in Michigan will give me plenty of opps to visit their breweries! The terrain around Branson is pretty. The town itself you can keep.

What the Port of Kimberling does have, is fire flies! These are the instant-on/instant-off strobe light kinda flies. Very cool to watch! Welp, that’s it for now. Gotta fix a skirting brace on the trailer and it’s nearly Modelo time. Cheers!

A Snug Site & A Failed Flop

After watching 121 Live Sunday morning (despite many weather-related video dropouts) I left Port of Kimberling heading northeast to Mark Twain National Forest, specifically Red Bluffs Recreation Area. ‘Twas a nice drive through the Missouri mountains (ahhh, let’s call them hills) with periodic light rain. I was just fine with the showers, as the forecast predicted strong thunderstorms. Upon arrival at the campground I was tempted to keep moving as it seemed deserted. LOL, the area I first drove into actually was deserted—I guess kinda an overflow area because it looked like the river had recently flooded it.

Red Bluff Recreation Area
Red Bluff Recreation Area

The Rig
The Rig

On the other loop I met a young family who was just setting up and they kindly offered me the site they had reserved next to the non-reservable site they preferred for “kid running room.” I squeezed into the short site for a snug fit but while setting things up my favorite Teva flops gave out on me. They’d been super-glued before and this blowout was more severe so I decided to give them a proper burial. Now I gotta break in a new pair of Sanuks.

In the morning I quickly broke camp (didn’t set up much the night before) and headed toward St. Louis. My map didn’t provide any detail of the remote area I was in and I was out of cell range so my phone app was worthless, so I made course decisions based on only the dash compass. Saw some pretty scenery; probably more than I needed to! No worries, since I was only headed to St. Louis, just a few hours away. Now am sitting at the local KOA fussing with the %#*+^$(&# Dish satellite system. It almost never works. Gonna call them tomorrow and insist on a new dish antenna.

Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Road

Nat Geo’s Guide to Scenic Highways & Byways recommends the 45-mile riverside road that runs from North St. Louis to Kampsville, IL. So I took it and am glad I did! Beautiful views of the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. Holy moly, that’s a lotta water! You kinda get that when you cross the Ole Miss on interstate highway bridges but driving alongside the river is an experience. There are a few small towns along the way, like Grafton, which would be cool to hang out in for a while. I passed through fairly early and they hadn’t really woken up yet (if they actually do!).

Once I got to Kampsville I realized the way back over the Illinois river was via ferry. While it was uneventful, it was cool to get the check in the box that I’d been on the water. Highway 108 headed east toward Springfield was a cool drive through corn forests and other crops this agriculture-illiterate guy didn’t recognize.

After I settled in at the tucked-away KOA south of Springfield (featuring a sad or just plain crabby owner a little obsessed with her trash bins, but that’s another story!) I headed into town to grab a brew at Engrained Brewery where I really enjoyed their German Helles Lager. Dude, these northern breweries seem to have a way with German style beers!

Back at camp I wrestled the original mattress outta the bedroom and the new mattress I’d had delivered to the KOA into its place. The stock lightweight mattress just wasn’t gonna cut it much longer. Since the new mattress needed 48 hours to decompress I bedded down on the jack-knife sofa. I already have pity for any guests who have to use  it and am beginning to see the value of a bunkhouse floor plan!

Headed back into Springfield today to visit Abe’s museum, home and other cool places (Buzz Bomb, Anvil & Forge Brewery & Distillery, etc.) More on that later!

Urban Chestnut Brewing Company

Simple dumb luck drew me to UCBC in St Louis’ midtown neighborhood. Very cool, friendly joint with steady customers on a Monday. I had the excellent Turkey Cuban sandwich for dinner chased with what might just be the best Pilsner I’ve ever enjoyed. Sorry, Gordon Biersch… you’ve been bested! To be fair, GB’s Pils is a Czech Pils & UCBC’s is a German Pils. So I guess we get the best of both regions!

The Hopswitch Hallertau Cascade IPA was also very nice. I wanted to stay and taste a few more of their beers crafted with “Beer Divergency” where they contribute to the revolution of American craft beers and pay reverence to classically crafted European beer styles. Their mission works. Yep, you guessed it: this is my new favorite brewery! Wish I’d brought my growler! Cheers!