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Epic Road Trip #3: Swan Creek

April 28, 2021 1 comment

After a week I’ve really settled in and I feel great about the trip so far. Van life is good and today I went through and did a reorganization and everything is put away tidy.

I found some great camping on Forest Road 202 opposite the road leading to the damn with a day use area and a hiking loop. Up a few miles there is an old CCC camp with interpretive signs. People camp there but it feels like a historic ruin so I drove up to the next intersection and camped by a fire pit.

It was pretty sweet in spite of a likely controlled burn there. Not a lot of duff in the pine forest but not really sooty either.

The CCC site was cool with foundations, the swimming pool and the fireplace for the bunkhouse still standing. A great amenity for a dispersed camping site. I explored it a few times. The workers there built the damn, by hand, amongst other things.

I got up early and drove towards Springfield. I did a morning hike and meditation at a Conversation Department run nature center. Met a woman who lived next door. None of the neighbors would sell an access route for the property so they sold to the conservation department. The trails were well maintained and the wayfinding was excellent. There was some garlic mustard along the creek which seemed unseemly for the conservation department.

I then got my East and West confused in classic Mike fashion and drove across town to a Civil War Battlefield site, Wilson’s Creek. It was the first battle in Missouri. Union forces had advanced on Missouri and Arkansas Confederates. Outnumbered 2 to 1 Nathaniel Lyon led union forces in a surprise attack with heavy casualties on both sides.

Ultimately Lyons was killed in battle and only the Union Batteries allowed them to withdraw without being decimated. While the battle was lost it took Sterling Price’s capacity to wage offensive action away and Missouri was not much contested after.

The interpretive signs were blase about slavery but it’s worth a visit. You can’t really understand Missouri today without reflecting on the Civil War. “Little Dixie” has some shameful roots that grew a tree of hate that still fruits today.

I got supplies and meditated in a local park until Anthony got off work. There was a bluebird who was putting on a show. I realized he had a nest there and I had meditate through a couple of angry blue birds as well as a couple of women and a gaggle of little kids coming up on what I thought was an out of the way picnic shelter. I was glad Anthony called as toddlers fell in ditches and a growing wave of nonsense swept the park.

Had a nice dinner at a barbecue place and got caught up. Consulted with Anthony on my new meditation routine. It was a lot of fun and I got to shower and do laundry and sleep in a bed.

In the morning I caught a Denny’s breakfast so I could use the wifi and get my video game (Evony) set for the trip. It feels good to be able to eat out again. I’m sticking to low traffic times and will keep assessing and adjust if needed.

Drive into the Mark Twain piece closest to Springfield, just a half hour away and camped at Swan Creek Horse Camp. Swan Creek got its name in the Civil War when Union forces were camped there and a soldier shot a goose but shouted he had shot a swan.

It’s a nice place to camp. Picnic tables and pit toilets. A nice place to swim if it were a bit warmer. I met a local, Raven a recent nursing school grad who gave me the rundown. We’re supposed to get 3-5″ of rain in the next 2 days and she showed me where it floods to.

The next morning was going to drive into Ozark for pans/aluminum foil as I’d left my pans at my last camp but the road was covered with water so I skipped it and came to an ATV day use area that’s higher and has wifi. Not enough to download pictures but I’m going to try and post this. My van is not made for the rough life so I’m being super safe with the off-road parking, driving through water, and other forest driving hazards. I have dubbed the van The Cookie Monster.

I got a good supply of wood under a tarp and have everything organized for the coming deluge. I have an easy out and I think I can ride out the storm quite nicely. There is no signal so may add on later. Now it’s time to put stuff away and get some shut eye.

Epic Road Trip #2: Paddy Creek

I got a little lost but saw a sign for Licking and thought I might try my luck at the local cafe to celebrate being full vaccinated as of today. The place is small and the parking lot was full so I got some subway at a little truck stop. Tuna salad salad was a good compliment to camp food.

Coming back I stopped at the Big Piney Bridge and meditated by the river. When I got back to the campground I was looking for a site with fire wood. I had picked my previous site for shady parking. I found a cool site kind of by itself with a short trail to a piece of the creek with a nice beach. There was a little pretty stone and faded flower arrangement as well as a decent amount of wood. A little later I found 2 little morels growing in camp. It was sweet.

Cooked a nice meal. The morels I cooked up in margarine with my green pepper and onion for my greens. I ate them with a corn tortilla with some goat guda, toasted on the fire.

I ate my greens with leftover potatoes and it was delicious. I’ve been toasting a few marshmallows. My fire is dying down and it’s getting to be time to lay down. Likely pick this up tomorrow and add photos when I leave and get a signal….

And I did. Can’t add photos but will try to publish. Had a rainy night. Took a trail hike in the rain and poked around looking at stuff. Decided to see some new territory and drove down to Houston to try and fill my water jugs at the ranger station. I’m going down to the next district south to camp and see what there is to be seen down there. Probably the north part east of Willow Springs.

Monday I’ll head to Springfield and see my friend Anthony who has recently relocated there. A shower already seems nice and I’m looking forward to picking his brain on my meditation routine. Until then faithful reader.

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Epic Road Trip #1: Getting Started

April 23, 2021 1 comment

Hello faithful reader. My deepest apologies for the long pause in content generation. The events of last spring were nothing less then momentous and managing the fallout and restoring myself to sanity where about as much as I wanted to do.

Being elected to the Columbia City Council was not a good thing for the blog. Hidden for 6 1/2 years or something and very episodic content generation after that. As I feared when I decided not to unhide the blog 3 months after first being elected having someone sift through my sacred things and attack me with out of context material from across the ages was more then I was willing to take. Or at least adding more potential wood to the fire.

Speaking of which I need to add little wood and TLC to my formerly jaunty little fire I am writing by.

So to catch you up, I handed off my City Council seat to Andrea Waner on Monday. I finished wrapping up a few things, packed my 2005 Dodge Caravan and am taking on van life to celebrate, regroup and recalibrate after being in the harness for 14 years straight, 3.5 times longer then I’d ever have before, and that only once.

Yesterday I finished packing had a cup of coffee with my friend Harry and caught a recovery story/rap performance on his Zoom training. I climbed a rock bluff and looked for morels at the Wagon Wheel trailhead to set a baseline. I had forgotten a few things from the fridge so I went home and cooked dinner and set off.

I stopped at the park on the Missouri River at Jeff City and caught the sunrise. My plan was to crash at the Camdenton WalMart parking lot and then drive to HaHa Tonka and maybe catch some Perseids just before sunrise. There was no overnight parking so I pushed on to Lebanon which was as chill as these things ever are.

I got up at 4:00ish and drove Northeast, breaking my plans to meander southeast until I hit the southwestern edge but not prohibitively so. Paddy Creek Wilderness area and camp ground was the closest Mark Twain National Forest area worth visiting. It was more pleasant then the drive to Lebanon and I grabbed a little more shut eye at a day use area so as not to be crushing into the campground at 5:30 in the morning.

I’ve been hiking and kicked off a new routine. Listening to my body; eating when I’m hungry: sleeping when I’m tired, meditatjng and some super simple yoga. The dogwoods are floating clouds, Little Paddy Creek is tumbling inexorably to the sea and all is right with the world. I’ve started the Deaths Bed Edition of Leaves of Grass and am bracing for the daily godsmack.

There is no signal here so I’m going to drive out and find one to lost. I’ll camp here through the weekend or dispersed camping nearby if it fills up while I’m excursioning tomorrow. There’s a spring I want to see and a short loop to recharge the battery. Until then faithful reader I will be cooking some potatoes and canned chicken over the fire and snuggle up in my cold weather bag as we have another record low. I’m packed for 4 seasons and excited to be underway.

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