When you’re in a mood to reminisce and laugh a lot, it’s best to camp with the Midwest Glampers. We were at Backbone State Park for what was dubbed “The Magical Mystery Tour” with a Sixties theme and heavy emphasis on the Beatles. We arrived Thursday in time for the "Strawberry Fields Forever" Daiquiri Bar. Host Sandy produced frozen daiquiris in mason jars brought all the way from Northwest Iowa in a cooler with dry ice while host Lydia served "Oh Bladi Oh Blada Bloody Marys." It gets better.
But the weather didn't. Storms and tornadoes had ravaged Northeast Iowa on Wednesday night and Thursday's heat was oppressive with more severe weather forecast. Nothing materialized that night and it was still dry when I got up Friday morning. However an eerie sky reminded me of the old 'sailor take warning' rhyme and sure enough, within an hour drenching rains pounded the camper. Outdoor breakfast was cancelled.
"Twist and Shout" (tie-dying t-shirts) was scheduled for 10:00. A break in the rain and two pop-up awnings allowed the event to go on. Sandy's incredible organization kept the mayhem to a minimum. The return of the rains required constant (and drenching) dumping of the water puddling on one side of our awning, but we got the job done and the results were spectacular.
The heavy rain abated in midafternoon and our daughter Kate arrived to participate in the rest of the weekend. The group concocted 'Maxwell's Silver Hobo Dinners' and managed to get supper done before the rain started again.
We retired to our trailer and watched Peter Sellers' A Shot in the Dark, in keeping with the Sixties theme. The rain took a recess until after we went to bed, when it returned for a fourth time that day--with a vengeance. We slept through it and missed the excitement. At some point, the ranger drove around announcing a warning to get to the shower house--which most of the Glampers did. They dubbed it a 'Potty Party.' Apparently the lightning was spectacular but we never heard a thing. Five inches of rain fell and the lower part of the park had to be closed due to three feet of water in that area.
Saturday morning, the rain was gone and intermittent clouds kept the temps a little more comfortable. Breakfast was the "Yoko Ono Omelette Bar" with everyone contributing ingredients and building their own to cook in little foil pans over the fire. Lydia did a fine job of managing the distribution of the pans over the fire to get everything cooked.
"The Long and Winding Road" was of course a hike along the Devil's Backbone Trail that this park is famous for. It was at this point that we discovered the closing of the lower park and had to park and walk in to the trailhead. The kids enjoyed climbing on the unique rock formations.
We drove in to Strawberry Point for ice cream and a selfie with the giant strawberry. An ongoing activity of the weekend was a selfie scavenger hunt, requiring Glampers to get photos of themselves in various categories: "All You Need is Love" (with other Glampers), "I Am the Walrus" (in the water), "The Fool on the Hill" (hiking the Backbone), etc--including, of course "Strawberry Fields Forever" with the giant strawberry. On our return, we visited with our neighbors, who had come in the afternoon before and pitched three large tents on the next two sites. They were from Pennsylvania and were in the park for a son's wedding, scheduled to occur at 2:00 that afternoon in the lower park by one of the stunning stone bluffs. The wedding was on hold until the park staff could find another, drier, location.
Meanwhile, it was time to get ready for the final event of the day: "We Can Work It Out" --a mystery game called The Karma Club. Group members had received their parts earlier and each had a little information that may or may not pertain to the murder of Marvin Stank, manager of a band sidelined by a bus breakdown on their way to Woodstock. The costumes were fantastic! Everyone got into their parts while trying to solve the murder, figure out who had been robbing the local banks, and forming their own bands. Instead of a full meal, we enjoyed 60s themed appetizers and treats: cheese fondue, "magic brownies," "magic mushrooms," John Lemmon Chicken Bites, and Yellow Submarines. It was quite an evening, even if no one solved the murder.
The next morning was beautiful (of course!) as we gathered for one more big breakfast and to say goodbye, before heading back to Missouri, Nebraska and various parts of Iowa. They are an amazing group but a weekend like that requires some downtime afterwards!
of simple pleasures. Wonderful weather--a few warm moments but overall nice breezes and no severe storms. We are at a favorite spot--Johnson Sauk recreation area in Illinois. A favorite because it is a lovely park and also close to a couple of our grandchildren. Camping with us are the Halds and my ex-boss and her husband. She hasn't tried to boss me once this weekend. Our part of the campground has rows of tall white pines which make a sweet sound when the wind blows through the tops. There is a lake with paddle boat rentals which we took advantage of yesterday.
Saturday we took in a grandson's baseball game in Kewanee at Windmont Park. Every summer sports event should have shaded seating and nice breezes.
Later we took a tour of Ryan's Round Barn, the largest round barn still standing in the US and on the park grounds. It's an amazing structure and the guide was very informative. The silo in the center is 100 feet tall. The pens in the basement all face the center where Black Angus cattle were fed from a chute that dropped hay from the mow high above. Fascinating place.
We have enjoyed excellent meals and perfect campfires every night. Tonight it will just be us with our son and family and tomorrow we may take in a local celebration at Francis Park before heading home.
It's been a dry spell for both my blogging and my camping. A combination of appointments, volunteer responsibilities, book signings, and recall work on the trailer has kept us out of campgrounds for three weeks. But this weekend we are at Johnson Sauk Trail Recreation Area in Illinois just north of Kewanee. It's a beautiful park and campground. We especially like the loop in the pine trees.
Our son and family live in Kewanee so joined us for supper last night. Today we will travel into town for one of grandson Elliot's baseball games and then back to the park and will tour the old round barn that is on the grounds. It's a beautiful day and I hope that everyone is getting some family/down time.
Some random thoughts about writing, camping, and eating.