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STOP #234

Today's moving day included our last new state border crossing for this year, and probably the first half of next year.

As promised in the last post we all took a river cruise today.

Here are a few photos of ROVER, THE POD and TWO PEAS crossing the Mississippi River between the states of Kentucky and Missouri. If you want to cross between the two states this is your only option, there are no bridges across the river.

Several hours later we arrived at the Riverside Campground of the Silver Mines Recreation Area in the Mark Twain National Forest. Finally a campsite we didn't struggle to back into!

TUESDAY - Today we decided to check out the other two campgrounds in this Recreation Area. Both are located on the other side of the river and you have to go back out on the highway to access them by car. There is a bridge over the river that once connected them all, but now it's a pedestrian only bridge.

The second and third photos are of the St. Francis River located directly behind our campsite.

Later in the day we loaded into ROVER and drove some thirty miles through the forest to arrive at what is considered one of the premiere state parks here in Missouri. There is no campground here, but they have a wonderful one mile trail that traverses through an old granite quarry.

Elephant Rocks State Park was on our list to visit two years ago when we passed through the area and we wanted to make sure we didn't miss it again this time around. We're glad we took the time to go visit!


Our 1-mile pathway through the rocks.
Piled up rocks from the quarry days.
This spot is called "Fat Man's squeeze".
The quarry site eventually filled with water.
The pathway leading up to the summit.
In the shadow of the large Elepahant Rocks.
In the sunshine the pink color really shows in the granite monoliths.
The view from the summit.
There are also some smaller rocks on the summit.

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STOP #233

I'd like to say our short 47 mile moving day went off without any drama, but it didn't!

The move itself went fine, but when we arrived at the next campground we again struggled to get into our site. This being a National Park Service property they seem very reluctant to alter the natural setting to accommodate human recreation.

We are all for that to an extent! These campgrounds were all built in the late 1960s and haven't been improved upon since then, with the exception of the bathhouses. The roads are very narrow and in disrepair, trees are left very close to the roads and sometimes encroach upon them and our ability to navigate through the campsites.

The campsites driveways are also narrow and in most cases very unlevel. There also seems to always be a tree exactly in the worst possible location to make backing into a site more challenging than it needs to be.

Now Tricia has told me several times lately that nobody wants to read about me always complaining. I don't look at it that way. I look at it as I'm trying to paint an accurate picture of what life on the road in an RV is truly like.

I realize these problems are not life threatening, nor career ending situations. I just want to make sure everyone realizes that RVing is not all rainbows and unicorns everyday, day in and day out. There are good days and bad just like real life.

With all that being said, I'm still glad we are here, in this campsite, and living the life we chose on the road. Multiple times a month we get a new backyard view and new neighbors, so if you're not happy with either, just wait and it will all change soon enough.

SATURDAY - The campground we find ourselves in this weekend is huge, 384 sites, all it's nearly full. There are numerous people driving the campground loops in electric golf carts.

We have a site right on the edge of the lake, like a lot of the other sites do. There are however a large majority of the sites on the interior roads of the campground that do not have a water view.

Our view outside of THE POD's front door this weekend.

Today we are going to drive around and check out all the other campgrounds located in the southern section of Land Between the Lakes NRA. Fortunately there are only a few and we were done before lunchtime.

Since we needed to go into town to fill the gas tank, we treated ourselves to a delicious authentic Mexican meal. There were left overs to bring home and have for lunch the next day.

Tomorrow we are going to hang out and enjoy our waterfront campsite, while we rest up because on Monday we have a long travel day which includes a ferry boat ride across the Mississippi River for ROVER and THE POD, and oh yeah, TWO PEAS will be there too!

SUNDAY - Like I said today is going to be a lazy day.

Tricia took this photo out the window behind the sink this morning while she was cleaning the dishes.

Just after lunch we walked up to the campground store and I purchased an ice cream sandwich to enjoy.

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STOP #232

It never ceases to amaze me how small this world is!

We were still about thirty miles away from our destination when we decided to pull off the highway and find a grocery store. We are headed into another huge natural area where stores and gas stations don't exist.

The little town of Grand Rivers, KY (pop. 298) is at the north entrance to the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. Think of it like a National Forest only this property is managed by the National Park Service (NPS) instead of the United States Forest Service (USFS).

The parking lot at the Village Market & Cafe was very small and there was nowhere for me to park ROVER and THE POD. Lucky for me, right around the corner, there were a dozen empty parking spots, all in a row, right across the street from Craig's Dairy Dream and Calvin's Liquor Store. I waited in the truck, while Tricia grabbed a few needed items in the store, in case there was a problem with me parking there.

After a few minutes I saw a Ford F250 with a middle aged couple inside leaving the grocery store parking lot with big mud flaps and a large towing hitch on the back, much like ours. They were obviously RVers and when they spied me hanging out around the corner they drove by very slowly, so I waved hello to them. They waved back and then made a u-turn in the middle of the street and pulled up along side of me.

Tricia and I met this couple at the Canopener Rally down in Santa Rosa Beach, FL in January. He remembered ROVER because he and I had a conversation about the Ford F150 and it's cargo and towing capacities. He was looking to purchase a new truck to haul around their 25-foot Airstream Safari.

I asked what they were doing here in such a small town and he said they were visiting the Land Between the Lakes NRA, just like we are.

I then asked which of the dozen or more campgrounds they were staying in and he said the Energy Lake Campground, just like we are.

I then went way out on a limb and asked what campsite they were in and he said he couldn't remember but they were in Loop A until Friday, we are reserved for a spot in Loop D until Friday.

We made some tenative plans to visit more later this week and they went about their business. A short time later Tricia came out of the store with a bag full of groceries and I told her of my encounter in the parking lot while she was busy shopping.

About forty-five minutes later we arrived at Energy Lake Campground, got checked in and went in search of a spigot to get some fresh water to partially fill our tank. That went without any problems and we then went in search of our campsite.

Here is where the drama started, there's always drama with us for some reason.

When I was checking in at the campground office the lady asked if Tricia was the nervous type? I thought that was an odd question! She explained what happened when the last person who had reserved our site tried to access it.

Our site is at the bottom of a steep hill, but with a wonderful view of the lake. The woman told her husband they were not going to take their trailer down that hill and made him turn back and get a different site. I said that won't be a problem with us.

As we approached our site I must admit it is a pretty steep downhill.
To make matters worse the roadway is very narrow and made entirely of loose gravel.

There is a very tight turn just before our campsite with a tree on the left edge.

The right side of the entrance to the campsite has a large tree stump
and the left side has a six inch dropoff leading down to the lake,
making it very important to go straight down the middle of the 10-foot wide driveway.

My thoughts were it doesn't get much tougher than this to get into a campsite, but that's when it started to pour down rain. With Tricia out of the truck and directing me into the site she was drenched in a matter of seconds.

We spent over 30-minutes trying to get into the site with 20 attempts to get it just right. When we were finally happy with our position I turned on our LevelmatePro+ to find out we were 8.75 inches out of level from left to right.

We can't compensate for that much adjustment!
Five inches is about our limit for adjusting left to right level.

Standing at the back of the site looking out.

This would have been our view of the lake.

We threw in the towel and pulled out of the site, but not before making a phone call to the check-in office and explaining the situation. We then asked which sites in Loop A were available for three nights.

Armed with a list of six sites we drove into Loop A and found our friends in Site #5. We selected Site #4 right next door and easily got set up before going back to the check-in office to update our paperwork.

The rest of the day I spent getting caught up with posting on this blog, Tricia tried to dry off, and we made plans for what to do the other two days we are here.

Campsite #A4 at Energy Lake Campground inside of the Land Between the Lakes NRA.

Check out the skid marks from us sliding down into our site.

WEDNESDAY - Today we are going to check out the other camping options in the northern and central sections of Land Between the Lakes NRA.

There are twelve campgrounds listed as accommodating RVs, but only three of them have electic hookups.

Hillman Ferry Campground is huge with 374 campsites and in hindsight would probably have been a better selection for us. In comparison, Energy Lake Campground, where we are at, only has 35 campsites. Fenton Campground is even smaller, has no reservable campsites and is located right off the major roadway that travels east/west across the Recreation Area.

The other campgrounds have no electricity and no reservations, but offer the same great views and the convenience of vault toilets. We checked them all out and found Cravens Bay and Taylor Bay Campgrounds are favorites.

After checking out the campgrounds we left the Recreation Area to fill up the gas tank and then went to the Visitiors Center so see all about the history of this park. There is also a planetarium at the visitor center which we may check out tomorrow.

At the end of our day we visited the Elk and Bison Prairie Habitat. For a $5 fee you can drive through the 700 acre habitat along a 3.5 mile paved loop and search for the elusive creatures.

We timed it perfectly by visiting around sunset and the elk were out in plain view near the route.

This big bull elk (male) was out in the middle of a clearing.

This cow elk (female) was nearby also grazing in the field.

This big bull was hiding in the trees near the road. My research informed me they rub the trees with their antlers for many reasons. They do it to mark their territory and show dominance to impress the females. It also helps to strenghten their necks if they do find themselves in a battle with another bull. Younger bulls do it to shed the fuzzy velvet from their antlers.

I'm not sure the reason behind this guys rubbing, but he was sure working hard at it for a long time before we moved on to let someone else behind us get a closeup look.

THURSDAY - We awoke this morning at 7:00AM and for the first time this season we dusted off one of our space heaters and cranked it up.

It was 49°F outside and it was 57°F inside THE POD this morning. We of course were warm and toasty under our two blankets in bed, but you can't stay there all day, or can you?

After only 10 minutes of the heater being on the temperature rose to a tolerable 65°F at the dinette and it was time for breakfast. Some warm oatmeal hit the spot for me!

I watched our Airstream neighbors walking their dog Barney around the campground loop and saw them deposit their trash into the nearby dumpster. Our friends arrived here Sunday, two days before we did, and have already got all of their sightseeing out of the way. We spent all day yesterday driving around to all of the campgrounds, checking out the Visitor Center and exploring the Elk and Bison Prairie.

Today have nothing planned until 3:00PM when we leave to go visit the Planetarium show at 4:00PM. We may finally have time to properly visit next door with our friends, instead of just sharing short conversations in the bathroom parking lot between our two trailers.

Around 9:00AM it was finally warm enough to go outside without bundling up. When I took our garbage over to the dumpster imagine my surprise when I glanced over to our neighbors campsite and found it completely empty. I know they're paid up through tomorrow because the reservation slip is still on their post.

I hope they're off enjoying their next adventure and not mad at us, or worst yet heading home to St. Augustine, FL to deal with some kind of emergency. We'll have to ask them next time we see them in January.

We hung around the campsite relaxing all day, Tricia playing games and reading books on her phone, me working on this blog post. At 3:00PM we piled into ROVER and drove 10 miles over to the Planetarium for the 4:00PM show.

As we were traveling 55MPH down the 4-lane divided highway to get there, a truck with a 40-foot long horse trailer in tow pulled out from a side street onto the highway in front of us. With plenty of room I changed lanes and soon was overtaking the truck and trailer as they got up to speed.

Just as we were side by side in the road a rock flew up and hit ROVER's windshield and left us with a nice sized chip in the glass. It's on the passenger side of the window, but we'll have to keep an eye on it and make sure it doesn't grow into somthing bigger. If that happens we'll have to repair the chipped area or replace the entire winshield.

The show at the Planetarium was titled Firefall. It was all about asteroids, meteorites and comets, anything that lights up the sky or falls to the earth. It was interesting, but definitely low budget and geared more towards middle school aged children than adults.

There were only four of us who paid $7 each to watch the show, but hey it got us out of the trailer for a hour or two and gave us something to do.

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STOP #231

Two very rare occurrences happened this morning for TWO PEAS AND THE POD. First, we are changing campsites on a Saturday and second, we don't have reservations at the campground we're headed for.

Normally this combination would be a recipie for disaster, but today we're feelin' lucky!

We are headed for the Shawnee National Forest in Illinois. There are eight established campgrounds in this National Forest (the only one in Illinois BTW) and only two of them have electrical hookups offered, the other six do not.

None of them offer reserved in advance campsites, so they are all First-Come-First-Serve. We are of course hoping for one of the sites with electricity because it comes at no extra charge. All sites are just $10 and seniors with a National Parks Pass get 50% off.

There are not many places where you get a campsite with electricity for only $5 a night. The reason it's so inexpensive is because there are no showers here. There is however a clean pit toilet and there is drinking water available at the campground entrance, just none on your site.

We arrived at the first of two campgrounds where we were willing to spend the weekend and found that there were only two of the thirteen electic campsites available. As I told you we felt lucky today and rolled the dice. If all thirteen sites would have been available we would have still selected the site we ended up with.

SUNDAY - By Sunday afternoon we had the entire campground to ourselves.

We drove down to the swimming beach at Pounds Hollow Recreation Area and there wasn't a soul in sight. It was kind of eerie with no one around.

I can just imagine what it was like yesterday when the sun was shining.

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