I decided to wait to write this final blog on my solo trip until I got back home safely and I could report that my first trip without a support group is a fait accompli. I arrived home shortly before noon, parked Agatha without wiping anything out, and, unlike my trip to Backbone last year, there has been no derecho. The drive was easy and pleasant with no wrong turns. The only glitch came on my departure. I suppose in anticipation of near freezing temperatures last night, the park had closed the dump station. I bid Backbone's iconic boathouse a fond farewell and headed out. Palisades State Park was right on my way home, so I pulled in there, paid a small fee, and dumped the tanks.
The weather gurus had things flipped a little. Wednesday was supposed to be rainy and Thursday cool but sunny. Instead, Wednesday was beautiful in the morning, turning cloudy but dry in the afternoon. Thursday morning, I woke up to rain with intermittent drizzle. They were right about the cool part. Since I am old, I opted to stick to the roads for my morning hike, foregoing the steep trails carpeted with wet leaves. I encountered three deer who gave me the usual "Who let you in?" stare before going about their business. It was drizzly but still pretty.
The whole stay, the campground was extremely quiet with only five or six other campers, although every site was reserved for the weekend. I read, finally did a little writing, and napped. I did very little cooking because I had stocked the freezer with leftover meat loaf, rice and chorizo stew, apple crisp, and other goodies for a quick zap in the microwave. All in all, it was an enjoyable finish for the season. Now to the saddest part of a camper's year--unloading and storing linens and staples and getting read to winterize.
Yesterday's forecast proved quite inaccurate with a beautiful sunny morning and clouds but no rain in the afternoon. I headed out on the West Lake Trail, which has lots of ups and downs. I thought I could get to the Devil's Backbone Trail but didn't go far enough. I still got in about 3 1/2 miles by the time I got back. Then my neighbors told be they hiked 8 miles on that trail! But it was a beautiful day for it.
After my lunch I had to have a long nap to recover. It's very quiet here since there are a whopping seven other campers in the campground and one of those left this morning. I would like to say I got some writing done, but it's been so long, I had to reread what I had and didn't get any farther. Maybe today.
Because the rain arrived in the night along with a front that calls for wind and temps in the low 50s, followed by a frost warning for tonight! I will try and get another walk in this morning, but will stick to the roads.
I have always enjoyed the stories of exploits of Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart, although I never had any desire to fly. I left that up to my intrepid husband. But ever since I purchased my little motor home over a year ago, I have wanted to try a solo trip. I love Backbone State Park, especially in the fall and it has good internet reception so it was a natural choice.
Two concerns surfaced Tuesday morning before I left. I had called the park to see if they were still selling firewood in the campground and the ranger said "Not at this time of the year." Well, there are usually farms in the area who have firewood for sale, so I hoped to pick some up along the way since, once I am set up, it's not simple to unhook and wander about the countryside.
It also occurred to me (after I talked to the ranger, of course) that many parks turn off their water around October 15. I had about 2/3 of a tank (according to the gauges, which are notoriously inaccurate) and thought I could make it three days but wasn't positive. So like the pioneers, I started out my journey worrying about fire and water.
It was a lovely drive north and little traffic. I checked several convenience stores, who sometimes carry wood, but not "at this time of the year," apparently. However, a private farm right at the park entrance had a cart with $5 bundles so I stopped and grabbed a couple. Yes, I did pay for them. And lo and behold, the water is still on at the park! Although why they would put the fresh water supply on a one way OUT of the campground so that you have to circle the entire place baffles me.
I got set up in a nice pull through site that I have used before, and with the aid of boards, Agatha is pretty much level. The temps warmed up to about 75 and it was a beautiful evening with a full moon. There are very few other campers here, but I did speak to a couple from Wisconsin who came south looking warmer weather in Iowa. (?!?) I also had a visit from an old friend and built a passable fire. All of the bugs in the county are putting in a final appearance--flies, box elder bugs, stink bugs, orange beetles, and a few mosquitos.
Today's forecast is for rain this afternoon--good time for some writing and reading. I will finish The Great Deluge by Douglas Brinkley about Hurricane Katrina and hope that the outside conditions don't lend too much realism.
Not to me, or even the camping season, I hope, but to the Pleasant Creek trip. Tuesday morning, before Marcia and Harlan left, we hiked the "Interpretive trail.' Apparently you should interpret the numbered posts along the trail, but there was no guide that we could find. However, we still enjoyed the wild asters and the last of the goldenrod. At the top of a hill, we discovered Lewis Bottoms Cemetery, an old but well maintained site that seemed to be dominated by three family names. Old stones that have started to crumble are embedded in the ground. We saw constant evidence of the derecho--trees either bent by the winds or snapped off like toothpicks.
We also made a couple of short road trips--one day for firewood and a few groceries and one day to a nearby apple orchard, where we snagged some apple cider donuts. We also had lovely campfires with a great view of the lake and sunset. Other than that, this was one of those trips to catch up on reading and napping.
Some random thoughts about writing, camping, and eating.