Rolling Again

After a week on the road, we’ve gotten back into our camping groove. The first few days are always weird, as we can’t remember where things have been stashed, and there’s always a (hopefully short) list of stuff that we know we’ve forgotten. Nothing major – just some  annoying stuff.

Our first stop, Christmas Day, was in Evansville IN at the gracious home of John’s brother Don. We laughingly refer to this stop as The Spa – the thickest, cushiest towels and the shoftest sheets that have ever caressed a road-weary body. Plus, we even have our own little parking pad for the Fireball.It’s always fun to visit. Evansville was ridiculously warm – about 70 on the day after Christmas. They are still mowing their lawn here – in December! It was a far cry from snowy Grand Rapids.The next few days were a blur of long days in gray, nasty weather. Post-Evansville, our first stop was at Dub Patton Campground, a COE (Corps of Engineers) campground in Lake Arkabutla, MS. The COE parks are great. Well-maintained sites with water/electric service at bargain prices with our America the Beautiful Senior Access Pass. This pass is the best (actually, the only) good part about being old. The COE parks are built around public waterways, mostly dams, in many states. They are one of our first choices of campsites, especially off-season. Lake Arkabutla is a huge recreation area, with several campgrounds. We stayed on the east side of the lake in 2013 , so we chose an unfamiliar campground on the lake’s west side this year. We pulled in late afternoon, and had enough time for a stroll across the nearly two-mile long dam before darkness settled in.As was the case for the next several nights, we had the campground nearly to ourselves. We had a quiet night, and left this quiet site the next morning.Scooting across the border into Arkansas, we settled into Cane Creek State Park for two nights, again finding a nearly deserted, immaculate campground.This park is a gem – the small campground had huge, well-spaced campsites and a great bathroom/shower. We went on an 8 mile hike the following day – nothing special, but it was great to spend time outside and stretch our legs a bit.

Continuing on what seems to be a lakefront camping theme, we wandered into another COE campground at Millwood Lake, Arkansas for two nights, including New Year’s Eve. If I live to be a hundred, I’ll probably never experience a New Year as quiet as this one. Only one other campsite was occupied in this small campground (of course, by a couple from Michigan). A few vehicles crossed the dam near the campground, and we heard gunshots from nearby duckhunters in the early morning and evening, but other than that, it was deathly quiet. Kind of odd, actually.

But, if you want to have a big barbecue, this would be the place to come! Check out the grill in the day use area here – these folks don’t mess around. John was dying to go get a big pork butt and smoke it.Millwood Lake is about 20 miles from Hope AR, which is the boyhood home of Bill Clinton. So, we wandered into town to see what that’s all about. There’s a Visitor Center there, and the restored home where Clinton lived for the first four years of his life. He graduated from Hope High School, but moved to another home across town after that. There wasn’t much to see, but we are always eager for a history lesson….So, we’re now near Dallas for a few days. For the first time in a week, we’ve got blue skies and sunshine!

Happy New Year!