Have you ever looked in your rear view mirror, while driving down a road around 15-20 mph, and seen this hunkin' big bird flying about 2 feet over the back of your truck's tonneau cover looking at you thru the cab's completely open back window (I have a retractable window on my Tundra)? Well, read on, . . . please.
This was to be a trip to just get away for a few days, meet some nice folks with vintage trailers, see a part of the State I was not familiar with and just relax. For the most part, that is what happened. With a few incidents thrown in to make it interesting. The Campout was at Council Grove Lake COE's Canning Creek Campground.
Let me start at the beginning of the trip. I made a drive that would have been a 3-1/2 hour drive via Interstate, into a 5-1/2 hour trip via State Hwy 4. I started out by heading to Hays to stop off at WalMart and pick up a couple of things I needed. Opps, about 3 miles outside of town I remembered I would need my Senior Pass card, which I would need to "prove" that I should get the half-price for the camp site. Back the 14 miles to home I went to get the card, turned back around to Hays (the Hypo's parked in the median were probably wondering why they say me 3 times!), got the needed stuff and headed south on US 183 towards LaCrosse (thank heavens I decided to leave there as there was lots of one-lane construction going on). At LaCrosse, I headed east on SH4 and would take it almost all the way to Council Grove.
It was a nice drive, SH 4 is a pretty good road. The only bad thing is when you see something you'd like to get a picture of there is no place to pull over, let along with a trailer. I passed the little town of Marquette, where the Kansas Motorcycle Museum is located and would like to go back and see what they have. The weather was beautiful. The only thing that happened was I hit a bump in the road and it apparently knocked one of the trailer's rear stabilizers down. A kind person drove alongside me and hollered that something was hanging down at the back of the trailer. Well, as I said about the road, so waited until I got gas in Lindsborg.
I left a day before the Campout started so I would have a quiet night. No "well", I did have a quiet night - except for the hunkin' big bird. After getting set up, I showered and decided to head to town for some supper. As I am leaving the Park, this hunkin' big bird catches up to me. Not repeating the first paragraph, but the thought went thru my mind that if I stop suddenly that thing will come through the window and into the truck. Okay, how do I explain that to the insurance agent - guess that would be like a deer through the windshield; but, a bird through the back window? It was a turkey, I slowed down and she went right over the cab and flew off. Boy, she was really flying for such a big bird. That wasn't my last encounter with her either.
DAY 2. It had been a long, long time since I had not slept without some light coming through a window. It was so black that night I couldn't even see my hand. It was so quiet outside too, no lapping water to put me to sleep. At 1:30 I woke up with a cramp on top of my right foot, oh get up and walk, walk, walk - 3 steps forward, turn, 3 steps, turn, etc (my trailer isn't very long). Back in bed, just starting to doze off and there is blood curtling screech from some bird coming thru the window by my head. Finally slept.
The next morning, I remembered I had left my soap and shampoo in the shower. On the way, I met some of the folks who had come in during the evening. My breakfast consisted of left over breadsticks and coffee. Well, I remembered I had forgotten what I really needed more than my Senior Pass - that ended up I didn't need at all. I had forgotten the meat for my stew for Saturday night's potluck supper. Am having a lot of senior moments here.
The breeze that started out in the morning is now becoming a strong wind. I took most of the day exploring around Council Grove and learning something about the history around the area. This area was the area the Kansa Tribe lived. I visited the Kaw Museum learning more. I stopped at The Apothecary store downtown - a really interesting store, and had a Birthday Cake Milk Shake from their old fashioned soda fountain. Oh, that was so good in this heat. I bought a couple pieces of candy too! Went to the local grocery store to get my meat and bought some Henry Weinhard's Black Cherry Cream Gourmet Soda for a treat. Oh, the candy was a treat too. When I got back I met Bob from Emporia. He has an '09 Casita, so we spent time "talking Casita". It was really getting windy now.
NIGHT 2. Some of us had dinner at the Hays House - the longest continuous running restaurant west of the Mississippi River. Got a chance to meet some more folks who had come in during the afternoon. Back at the campground, we watched the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz movie "The Long, Long Trailer". The wind was still blowing pretty good at bed time. Tonight was quiet and I slept good.
Oh, I saw Miss Hen Turkey on my way to dinner. She saw me and this time she figured she had better get across the road before me. She ran this time and that little lady CAN RUN too. I saw her Sat and Sunday too but she was too busy eating to have anything to do with me.
DAY 3. Woke up to an overcast sky. In the afternoon, we would tour all the trailers and then have our potluck supper around 6 p.m. Got all the ingredients in the crock pot for the stew, then went to town hoping to get to the local bakery for some breakfast. No luck, too late. Since I had forgotten a ladle (another senior moment) went back to the grocery store and bought one, along with some more Gourmet Soda in root beer and vanilla creme flavor. That cherry cream was sooooooo delicious, so smooooooth.
When I got out of the shower it was starting to drizzle. On this day we toured the various trailers that came, learning a little about each one from the owners, the rehab work they have done and plan on doing. Even those with new models got to tell us about their home on wheels too. For pictures of the various vintage trailers and our activities, go to my Flickr link to the upper right below the art work and click on the Kamp Kansas #4 set. Fortunately, the drizzle and rain held off for us while we toured. At 6 p.m. we gathered at one of the covered picnic areas for our potluck supper, some entertainment and winning of door prizes. There were enough door prizes for each of us to win three. Went back to the trailer after it was over, read for awhile and then went to bed. I was tired, must have been being in the outdoors.
NIGHT 3. Wow that was fast. Put my head down at 10:30 p.m. and woke up at 6:30 a.m.
DAY 4. Today most folks were leaving for home, but 4 of us were staying another night. Probably was a decision we might have regretted. It was windy and overcast when I got up and chilly. Doug showed us all how to make "omelet in a bag" - put eggs in a Ziplock bag plus what ever other things you want in your omelet (bacon, peppers, etc - no cheese yet), mash all together so eggs are "whipped". Drop bag in boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes until eggs are firm. And, you have Omelet in a Bag.
For the rest of the day, I went into Council Grove and had lunch at a local Mexican restaurant, napped, read, another nap, took a walk around a couple of the campground loops and had to cut short going around another because of rain.
NIGHT 4. Ten and one half hours of rain, wind, thunder and lightening - all continuous no stop for a breather. Didn't sleep very good. Leak from the overhead fan dripped on me until I closed my vent. Don't say "dah", suppose to be able to leave it open in rain - only when the wind is blowing 50-60 mph does it leak.
DAY 5. The rain finally quit around 5:30 and I snuck in a couple hours of solid sleep. In between showers, I hooked up the trailer and when the shower would start I went inside and readied everything inside for traveling.
The wind had changed directions during the morning and now was coming from the north and it was cold. The wind was also blowing tree debris across the lake and it was gathering on the south side of the lake. When I left, I noticed that the area east of where some campers had been was now under water. Oh, oh, I think that mean we had a lot of rain and there is flooding somewheres, maybe highways. So I checked the various routes I was contemplating on taking home and they were okay for now. I did learn, before leaving the area, that we had had 3 inches plus of rain in that 10-11 hours and winds of around 50-55 mph with gusts up in the 60's.
I ended up take SH177 north to I70 and then head west. No problems with flooding. Headed west and stopped at Junction City and had breakfast at Cracker Barrel. Stopped again at the Abilene rest stop and headed home. Got home around 3 p.m. Parked in front of the house and unloaded then took Jim with me to the Ellis Travel Plaza, up at the Interstate where they have a free dump station. Cleaned out the holding tanks (which I had emptied at the campground but because of the sprinkle starting, did not clean out) and drove back to the house and park the trailer in the back yard to unhook the trailer.
As I was starting to take the friction sway bar off the trailer I pulled the pin on the trailer end and went to pull the pin on the truck end. It wasn't there! There wasn't anything holding that end of the sway bar on the truck end except just the weight of the hitch. If I had hit a good bump that end, sitting on a 1" ball, could have just popped off and then there would have been hell to pay. That sway bar is made of unforgiving metal and would have done big damage to the fiberglass trailer and brand new tires. That just floored me and I sat down on the ground just thinking of all that could have happened. I know at each stop that day, I did a walk around checking the doors, stabilizers, trailer chains, the trailer hitch, etc. I remember glancing at the pins on the sway bar at the second stop and re-adjusting the truck end pin around to the locking side of the pin and keeping the sharp end away from the plug-in cord. Needless to say, I bought some new pins for both ends that day and they are a little different design than the ones I had. So physically checking both pins is definitely on my walk-around list at each stop now. Whew. Was being watched over.
Well, back at work now. Not terribly excited about that, but I gotta get the bills paid. It was good to get away. Was a bit rusty with the trailer routine so will have to remedy that and practice some more this summer so can be ready for something this Fall!