Greetings from the Stage Stop Campground near Neosha, Missouri! We pulled in here yesterday for a two-night stay, allowing us to take a break from driving, get a load of laundry done, and spend some time planning our final stops on our way home.
But what’s been going on for the past ten days? Glad you asked!
When we last posted, we had had just arrived at the Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park in Gilbertsville. We stayed there one night, enjoying a hot shower and a peaceful night’s sleep. The next morning when we got ready to leave, I noticed some kind of white drips all over the car and the rig. I assumed it was some kind of sap from the large tree we were parked under. Later, I discovered that it was most likely cicada pee (I kid you not).
Day 25 (Tuesday) – We drove from Kentucky to Bedford, Indiana where we arrived at the Free Spirit Campground off of Hwy. 50 east of Bedford. The drive was beautiful, although the last hour or so was pretty hilly and winding through some state forest land. The campground has an interesting history. It was formerly a KOA property, but it has changed hands several times and had been allowed to deteriorate. The current owner, Mike, bought it a couple of years ago and is working his butt off to turn it into a quality campground.
Our site was a little unlevel, but otherwise it was fine. All the plumbing and electrical in the park has been re-done, so everything worked perfectly. Mike stopped by several times to check on us, using his backhoe to deliver us a picnic table. The park is about half filled with monthly residents, most of whom work in the area, but all their spaces are kept neat and tidy. Most of the daily spaces were empty when we arrived, but by Friday afternoon, every spot in the park was full for the Memorial Day weekend. There were lots of kids using the playground equipment, families were celebrating graduations at the pavilion and at their campsites–the place was rockin’, but there was no bad behavior or troublesome guests, it was just a good time being had by all. Perfect experience!
We stayed seven nights at Free Spirit while visiting with Andy’s brother and sister-in-law in nearby Bedford. It was so good to spend time with them after not seeing them for five years for Andy and seven years for me. On Friday, we all drove over to Nashville, Indiana, a neat little town with lots of quaint shops, art galleries and restaurants. Andy scored a great deal on a leather bomber jacket for $99 (regularly priced at $300+), and I got some crazy socks to wear on March 21 for World Down Syndrome Day for my great-nephew Westin.
On Saturday, we went to Spring Mill State Park to tour the Pioneer Village exhibit. But we got an unexpected treat–in addition to the Village being open for tours, they were having a Civil War re-enactment for Memorial Day weekend. The Union troops from Indiana and the Confederate troops from Tennessee were camped out in the park, along with the women-folk who supported them, so you could walk through the camps and see what they were cooking and how they lived. In the afternoon they staged a mock battle complete with rifle-fire (loud) and cannon-fire (REALLY LOUD). The crowds watching from the viewing area along the road really enjoyed the show, but my favorite moment was when a little kid looked up at his daddy and said, worriedly, “They’re gonna kill the mailman!!”. Fortunately, everyone walked away from this “battle”.
Another feature of the park is a memorial to NASA astronaut Virgil “Gus” Grissom, a native of Lawrence County, who died along with two other astronauts in a fire on the launch pad in a pre-flight test of Apollo I on January 27, 1967. There is a small museum with some very interesting displays depicting the training and experiences of Grissom and the other Mercury astronauts of the era.
In addition to the sightseeing, we enjoyed hanging out with Steve and Kathy in their home. On Memorial Day, we all paid a visit to the grave of Andy’s sister, Elizabeth (“Liz”), who died in December 2013, and for whom all our rigs are named. Liz would be so surprised to see her two kitties, Maggie Mae and Molly Ann, whom we adopted, traveling all over the country in an RV–it would please her so much, we’re sure!
We also got to spend a little time with Andy’s niece, Melinda, and her two schnauzers, Baxter and Bentley. Kathy made sure we were well fed with Sunday dinner as well as a cookout on Memorial Day. Thanks again, Steve and Kathy, for your generous hospitality while we were in Indiana!!
On Tuesday, June 1 (Day 32), it was finally time to start making our way back to home base. We met Steve, Kathy and Melinda for breakfast at Denny’s at 9AM, after I dropped the car off at the nearby Big O Tire shop. We had gotten a warning from the TPM system that we had a low tire a few days earlier, which turned out to be the right front. Andy and Steve aired it up and we watched it for a few days with no more warnings, but we wanted to have it checked before we got back out on the road. Big O checked all the tires and found no problems with any of them (except that now the right front was OVER-inflated), so they made sure they were all inflated properly and didn’t charge us anything.
After breakfast we drove back to the campground, dumped the tanks, disconnected the utilities, topped off the propane, and then hit the road.
Our destination for the night was Hilltop Campground in Grayville, Illinois, a small city-operated park that has nightly sites for $15. It’s a little tricky to find, as you have to drive through a residential area, but once you get there, it’s quiet and secluded. The way it works is, they keep the electrical pedestal padlocked, and when you select a site, you go to City Hall or the police department, pay your fee, and they send someone out to unlock it. Fortunately, we found a site with a pedestal that was already unlocked (maybe someone had just left?), so we got set up with electricity and water, and then we drove into town to City Hall to pay our fee.
Around 4:30 PM, it started to drizzle, and then it rained all night long, and it was still raining the next morning when it came time to unhook everything. I followed Andy around with an umbrella, trying to keep him somewhat dry as he unhooked the electricity and water. It was a little messy, but we made it work and then we got on the road around 9:45 AM.
It rained most of the morning while we were driving, which made it a little more stressful, but around lunchtime it stopped for a bit while we had lunch at a rest stop on I-64. Fortunately, the rain held off while we drove over the Mississippi River and through the heart of St. Louis, Missouri, through some fairly heavy traffic. We were able to gawk at the arch while we drove by. 🙂
Our destination for the night was the Meramec Valley Campground near Cuba, Missouri. This is a huge owners-association-operated campground with over 350 sites. The online reviews are all over the map–people either love it or hate it. The main complaints are the potholes in the roads and the un-level sites with low-hanging branches. If we were still pulling a fifth-wheel with a large truck, I would probably have the same complaints. But with our smaller rig, we had no problems at all getting into our site, which admittedly was near the entrance to the park so we didn’t have to navigate the pot-holed roads through the park.
As we arrived, it started to rain again, so we just connected the electricity at first, and waited awhile to connect the water (we had plenty of water in our fresh tank so it wasn’t an issue). The rain stopped after about an hour, and I was able to take a long walk around the park. I found that they are in the middle of a big road and infrastructure-repair project–guess they’ve been reading their online reviews. But the campground is really beautiful. The front section is for campers, and the section across the levee on the back side of the lake is for permanent residents. I give them kudos for having a beautiful place to camp.
What I did NOT appreciate, however, was the noise early the next morning. Around 6:30 AM, they started moving gravel out of the big piles near our campsite. There is nothing like the sound of a backhoe blade scraping across a parking lot to grate on your nerves early in the morning. Then a delivery truck showed up at the front gate at about the same time with a new park model home for someone, so they were all scrambling to get a path cleared out for the house to move down the road right by us. As soon as the house went by, they then proceeded to put down hot asphalt on the gravel right outside our rig.
In spite of the commotion in the morning, we did enjoy our stay in this campground, and given the work they’re doing to address some of their issues, we would definitely stay there again.
We pulled out of there yesterday about 9:30 AM to clearing skies and a beautiful drive through Missouri. We stopped at a Walmart in Marshfield where we did a little grocery shopping and enjoyed lunch in the parking lot. While I was shopping, Andy stayed in the rig and wound up having a conversation with a guy who saw the front door was open and stopped by to ask some questions about the rig and RV life (that happens a lot).
We continued our drive after lunch and arrived at our current location, Stage Stop Campground in Neosha, MO, around 3:15 in the afternoon. This is an awesome little campground just off I-49 about 20 miles south of Joplin. There are only 15 sites, and only five of them are available for nightly rental. But it is immaculate, well-managed, and professionally run. There are nice showers, laundry facilities, a dog run, small playground and a horseshoe pit. There are two tornado shelters in the park, which is comforting given where the park is located.
We booked a two-night stay in this park, given our usual modus operandi of driving three days and then taking one day off. However, Andy is finding that he is more comfortable just cutting back on our daily driving distance from ~300 miles to ~200 miles, and then he doesn’t feel the need for the non-driving day. Therefore, I’ve planned out the remaining stops on our journey back to home base with that in mind, and it looks like we’ll be back at home base in Deming, New Mexico on Wednesday, June 9, with four more stops after we leave here tomorrow.
It feels good to be on the way home!
We hope that you’re all doing well, and that you’re also getting excited about getting back out there this year! Stay safe, stay well, and stay happy!!
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