From a 98-degree-day a week ago to possible freeze warnings for tonight meant different wardrobe choices for this camping trip than the rest of the summer. We are at Shady Creek, a Corpse of Engineers campground on the Mississippi. I have been here many times in the past but not for the last several years. The purpose of this trip was twofold: camping with Don's sister-in-law and brother-in-law; and a lot of fishing, including teaching me to fish.
Shady Creek is a nice campground: cement pads with lots of big trees--a characteristic missing in a lot of Iowa campgrounds the last few years. But I'm sorry to say the shower house is a D+ at best. There are two showers in both the men's and women's sides. One is quite small and the other larger, serving also as the handicap facility. On the women's side, the handicap shower has a push-button control which requires a fair amount of pressure to depress, and the the water only runs as long as long as the button is pushed in. And it doesn't get warm. Not the best set up for a handicapped person. The other shower has a push button control that stays depressed for about a minute and the water does get warm, but the floor of the dressing area is lower than that of the shower. Therefore there is about an inch of standing water in the dressing area all of the time. If you drop your towel on the floor (as I did) you're in big trouble. There are two barely functional hooks in each shower. On second thought, maybe it should be a D- shower house.
But I know you're dying to know about the fishing lesson. It happened and it was successful! Tuesday, we put the boat in in Muscatine and spent a couple of hours trolling below the dam. It was windy but not unpleasant. And I caught a fish! I made Don hold it for the picture--the wind had really done a number on my hair. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it. Shallow water near an island caused us more trouble and we finally hung it up for the day.
It's been perfect weather for evening campfires. We've enjoyed one every night and it's been great to visit Don's inlaws. We went to Muscatine last night for a little Italian food and lots of leftovers. Lola is a delightful golden doodle who gets very excited when Joan says "Daddy's home!" It all makes me very sad as the end of the season approaches.
Usually if there's a damper on a camping trip, it's a literal one: a rainstorm, a tornado warning or some weather related event involving water. The past week at Black Hawk Campground on the Mississippi, the weather was predominantly lovely. We had a rainy day on Monday--sounds like a song--but it provided the perfect excuse for a road trip to check out the apple establishments for apple donuts, apple pies, apple cider, apple butter. You get the picture.
Every evening was a perfect campfire night. Showy sunsets ranged from soft pastels to vibrant reds, oranges, and pinks. Mornings were just on the crisp side or softened by fog over the river. Daytime temps were perfect for walking or lunch overlooking the Mississippi.
So what was the fly in the ointment? Well, first of all, there were about six thousand of 'em, hanging around the camper door like they were waiting to see the queen lying in state. That's an expected side to camping and the flyswatter was always at hand. However, the purpose of this trip was for Don to fish, and to teach me to fish. I don't want to hear any comments about old dogs. Tuesday noon, after two pleasant hours on the river, during which I had requested I would just watch, I suggested that he drop me at the dock and I would go back to the camper and spend some time writing. We would go out again Wednesday when I would actually try my hand.
Part way back to the camper, I realized I had no keys. I called Don and he said he was coming in anyway; he had just had a run-in with a rock pile and had wrecked the propeller on the motor. I wrote in my last blog how we then spent the afternoon crisscrossing Prairie Du Chien before we found Cabela's boat shop. The young man ordered a new propeller and said, since it was already after 3:00 pm, it might not arrive on Wednesday but would by Thursday, and he would have tracking information by Wednesday. It would be shipped from the factory in Fon du Lac, three hours away.
Long story somewhat shorter, it did not arrive Wednesday nor did any tracking information. It did not arrive Thursday. We spent both days waiting for a call and hanging around Prairie du Chien. By Friday morning, the weather forecast for Friday afternoon and Saturday included a lot of rain. No call from Cabela's, but when Don called "it had just come in!" I bought a cute shirt there a couple of days before, but I would stay away from the bridge department. Anyway, I am still a non-fisherwoman and my brand spanking new license is stashed in my purse.
Other than that, it was a lovely week.
We are spending the week at Black Hawk Campground near De Soto, Wisconsin. A first time experience for me, Black Hawk is a beautiful park perched on low islands and peninsulas in the Mississippi, and surrounded by the river bluffs of Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa. Our site backs up the this peaceful view of a backwater, home to a wide variety of birds including a lone blue heron.
My friend Don planned this trip because it's one of his favorite fishing spots. So far, nature and mechanics have mostly foiled that activity. The Ottaways are here too and yesterday morning, Don, Vince, and I went out for a little fishing excursion. For the most part, it was unproductive but a pleasant morning until a run-in with a rockpile damaged the prop on Don's boat. We spent the afternoon crisscrossing Prairie du Chien several times to locate a repair shop that could order a new prop. It will be here today or tomorrow. Those hiccups did not ruin a pleasant day on the Mississippi and a great supper and campfire with Ottaways.
Because of rain off and on all day Monday, we decided to do a little road tripping, particularly to the apple places at Gay's Mills and a personal favorite, Valley Fish and Cheese in Prairie du Chien. Plans for the rest of the week depend both on the weather and the arrival of the new prop. I am supposed to be getting a fishing lesson the next time out so stay tuned.
Some random thoughts about writing, camping, and eating.