Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Camping In My Own State

I have but a few days left on my summer hall pass, so it was vital to my survival over the next ten months that I live up life a bit, disconnect from the outside world and enjoy myself--before I go from feeling like Cinderella to a pumpkin again. King Ralph and I opted this year for camping trips around our own state of Missouri, unlike our usual cross country camp trips. Although we missed the adventure of traveling far, we have been exploring the different state parks, some of the area attractions, hiking and the rivers.

This past trip brought us to St. Francois State Park on the Big River. It turned out it was our favorite park! Site 41 had such a private feeling, lots of shade, with generous space between the neighboring sites and looked out to the woods. Bonus: it's only 45 minutes from our house. 

We arrived Wednesday evening to a nearly empty campground. There really is nothing better! We have watched the few people come and go...till Friday evening, it turned full house. The campground was full of families having fun. Good fun. Not whooping-it-up-drunk-loud-fun.   

Thursday morning we woke, brewed coffee and tea to sip while relaxing in the beautiful fresh morning air. Then we went for a long bike ride. We stopped along the different beach entries on the river till we selected the perfect spot to enjoy later. After we showered, it was off to see the Bonne Terre mines. Recently the STL Post-dispatch published this article http://www.onlyinyourstate.com/missouri/unique-attractions-mo/ which meant we had to go! It was cool, both literally and figuratively. I wish the very nice tour guide would have been more exact on with dates in history. I love exact dates of time in history. There's one thing I know for sure...lead mining for a $1.00 or a $1.05 for a day with the impending onset  of lead poisoning later in life wouldn't have lured me into the career. Years after the mines closed they were flooded. People come from all over to fresh water scuba dive in the mines. Scenes from the movie The Abyss were filmed in the mine. Jacque Cousteau once visited the mine for what was to be a twenty-four hour diving visit, but stayed five days. It's that cool inside. 

When it's just King Ralph and I we dine on camp fare that we know our daughters wouldn't partake in: fish tacos. We cooked up some fresh caught fillets outdoors and layered on the spice and crunch of cabbage. We aren't the campers that think food begins and ends with hot dogs. We like to think of camping as a time when we are relaxed and have more time in the kitchen. We then took a short evening bike ride, played games (watched me dominate every board),
we sipped wine and beer, made a nice fire and hauled the TV outside to create our own mini drive-in. It was showing "Date Night" for our date night. 

Friday we started our day with homemade blueberry muffins and fresh fruit,
the old fashion percolator brewed coffee and the morning conversation turned to our retirement dreams and goals. By afternoon we found ourselves sitting on sand, staring out at the Big River. Since I am nursing wounds (previous adventure going arye), am on strong antibiotics (to avoid my foot from looking anymore like Mr, Deeds's foot), King Ralph blew up a boat and floated me on the river.
Doctors orders were you can be ON the river, but not IN the river. I was like the Queen of Sheba. My King even brought me ice cold blueberry lagers to sip while the sun kissed my skin. 

While we enjoyed the river, I had a roast cooking--waiting for
Princess A to arrive. D was still not feeling up to snuff, opting to stay home, which foiled the dogs camping dreams. Uli loves camping! I then made a yummy pot of garlic smashed taters and steamed green beans. The three of us sipped bourbon slushies, 

Bourbon Slushies 
4 chilled cans of regular or diet coke
12oz frozen limeaide 
12oz chilled bourbon (I used Jim Beam)
Mix ingredients, freeze, stir after an hour. Freeze solid over night. 

played Trouble (King Ralph alienated us) and we took a night walk under the blue moon. The moon was so bright the blue of the day sky was visible above the tree tops. 

Good morning Saturday! The morning air was cool, the perfect summer morning air. I started a pot of coffee while the King and Princess A slept.  I grabbed my magazine,
but also absorbed the silence and the near stillness of the campground.
A few folks took early morning strolls, and I could see one boy taking to the shower house (I was certain in a race to beat the crowds). The morning sun burnt the dew off the grass, leaving water droplets to glisten like littered diamonds, while birds sang in the still of the morning adding another layer of peace. 

I don't know what it is about a Saturday morning campground, but the air permeates scents of pancakes, eggs and bacon. For us it was bacon and omelets...oh, and mimosas. 
King Ralph grilled pork steaks, got them in the slow cooker to make them fork tender, and headed to the river. King Ralph secured our perfect spot earlier in the day--our chairs sat idle waiting for us. My sister-in-law, niece and D joined us. We all sat in the river, sipped cocktails, ate homemade hummus, gourmet cheese, and soaked up the sun. Princess A secured my boat to her chair that she sat in the water. She found a de funk tire from a swing on the beach, drug it in the river and created a redneck ottoman for her legs to tan. Once we reached the daily allotment of sunscreen, we all headed back to our camp site for dinner. Our meat was cooked to perfection, salad was tossed, the corn-on-the-cob sweet, baked potatoes were loaded, and the bread was toasted just right. We finished a night of family fun with games--Left Right Center and Trouble. The girls roasted marshmallows over the campfire and we sang Sweet Caroline. 

Sunday means the escape from home ends and my summer hall pass draws closer. With my foot feeling pretty darn good the three of us set out on the Swimming Deer Trail. It was a tranquil way to start the day. We hiked to the top of the bluffs,
stood at the edge to look down at the river, peering up and over the tree tops. On the way down we passed the old dilapidated saw mill,
where King Ralph signed our names in chalk. Chalk chunks lay all around shack's base. 
Then we packed up and headed home. 


Lin said...

Sounds dreamy! I am envious of your camping adventures. I need to do that more...maybe next year.

I love how you have that camper STOCKED with food and booze!

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