Sunday, October 18, 2015

Fall Camping

I rarely take my personal days for personal fun. They've usually been reserved for getting the girls to and from college, which is more a chore and less of fun. But this year, this year I took my personal day for me! 

We were out this weekend exploring new territory--a state park we've never been to, blazing trails we've never walked. I report: I'm in love with Sam A. Baker State Park! 

It took King Ralph and I almost two hours to drive to the campground nestled at the base of Missouri's St. Francois Mountains. I selected our site (185) for its proximity to the Big Creek.
It was a pleasant surprise that a pathway the creek was on our site. We took our time setting up the camper, ate a quick sandwich, before heading out on a three mile bike ride around the park (the bike trail connects campgrounds 1 and 2), stopping at different points on the creek to play like kids again.
When we got back we took a couple of Sam Adams October fest beers down to the Big Creek. We sat on our private rocky beach, sipped slow, talked about what our 30th anniversary plans should be, and enjoyed the peace the rushing water offered. We tossed rocks in the creek just so we could watch the water ripple. Tranquility found in nature. Comfort found in commitment.

We returned to the camper, started a fire and played Jenga...of course King Ralph had his customary camping cigar.
Then we created our own mini October Fest, a feast of brats, sour kraut, brown mustard, and homemade German potato salad.
It was pumpkin pie with whip cream for dessert. Then the crescent moon appeared in the sky,
the temperatures dropped and our camp fire roared.
We sat under the stars warming ourselves while I read a ghost story to us.
All was good at site 185.  

Night was cold. I shivered. We cranked up the camper's heater. And snuggled. The propane tank went dry. Eek! No worries, King Ralph took to the outside (barefoot) at 4am to turn the other tank on. Heat! Aaahhh! 

We woke to an impending beautiful day. After coffee and tea, I made a breakfast of sausage, eggs and cinnamon swirl French toast. Then it was off on a hike.
We started off on the Shut-In Trail. The trail veers off to the Shut-In swimming hole, which offered a gorgeous view of the mountain and Fall colors. The swimming hole is silenced after an active summer and the stream babble was easy to hear. Quietness surrounded.
Then we hopped back on course, worked the switch backs, bounced around on the shut-in boulders littered with fallen leaves
before stopping to see the three hikers cabins (the cost of lodging is free).
We took in the view of the vista at cabin one,

then veered off on the Mudlicks Trail. Mudlicks offered a pallet of Fall colors,
while the leaves dropped from tree tops and danced in air. It was a picture perfect Fall feeling hiking along the trail. 

Next we absorbed the thick forest view at cabin two where patches of warm sun flooded between trees.
At cabin three we took the fork in the road onto the Fire Tower Trail.
The view at the highest point on the mountain was beautiful. We sat eating our lunch and sharing stories of yesteryear with three gentlemen hikers. Then we set down the gravel road, lined with trees, back to camp. 

Once back at camp we sipped Bailey's on the rocks while stretched out in lounge chairs relaxing, soaking in the warm Fall sun. It was an absolutely gorgeous day! 

Before dinner we took a four-wheel drive up Graves Mountain. As we headed back to camp we spotted the fire tower on the peak of the mountain, giving us perspective of where we'd been earlier in the day.  It was back to a LDE candle light dinner
(I'm resourceful...
camper safety first!). 

What's camping without a roaring fire and s'mores? King Ralph's fire was so large and hot my flip flop started smoking. Literally! And we could roast marshmallows while sitting at a distance in our chairs.
Nothing says camping like an ooey gooey marshmallow on a graham cracker with a caramel filled dark chocolate square dripping. Yum-yum!!

It was another cold Fall night, but we were toasty warm under mounds of quilts, with the furnace running--
33* and frosty outside, 66* and toasty inside. 

The park's lodge serves breakfast, so we decided to give it try. My review of the breakfast is: been there, done that. After breakfast it was time to pack up and head home.

That's a wrap on the 2015 camping season. Until next Spring....