Monday, October 12, 2009

The Unusual

Stop #17: Keosauqua Iowa at Lacey-Keosauqua State Park

When I took the truck into Ottumwa (O-tum-wa), got a new battery for the truck. The thing was original and over 5 years old, so got some pretty good years of service from it. Knew it probably was going to give me a bit of trouble this winter and had planned on getting a new one anyway. After servicing the the truck they cleaned all the mud and grime off of it, especially underneath. That was nice, don’t do that at home! I went and had lunch at the local Applebee’s where a wonderful waitress, Darlene, just took care of me - it was early and the lunch crowd hadn’t started coming in when I got there.

The other morning, when I was moving the trailer off the levelers I hadn’t moved the platform step far enough away from the trailer and as I pulled the rig forward, well guess what I crunched one of the legs. It looks like it’s “kicking up a heel”. Thankfully, I can get a replacement leg as it isn’t bent at the weld but a couple of inches down. It’ll be waiting for me when I get home.

I had another short drive, to the Keosauqua area. I took US-63 south from Ottumwa, a very nice highway, the 20 or so miles to Bloomfield; from there I was going to take J40 eastward to the campground. Due to whatever - distractions in town - I missed the turnoff. J40 is part of the Iowa Scenic Byway highway system, so instead took IA-2 until the first paved county road that would get me back to J40. OMG, what a mistake that was getting on J40 in Davis County. It was really bad, very narrow, no shoulder, I don’t know if there was any scenic beauty because I was so concentrating on staying on the pavement and dodging potholes. I could only max. out on speed at around 40 mph since it was one of those mini-rollar coaster roads between the trailer and truck. I had a good laugh when I was approaching the little town of Troy, the entering speed limit was 45 mph and I had hardly met that speed limit in the 3 or 4 miles I was on J40. Once I got into VanBuren County, the road was vastly improved, I mean vastly.

When I was approaching Ottumwa, on US-34, I encountered an apparently “lost” funeral procession. They had pulled over to the westbound side and several people were running back and forth with arms frantically waving in the air every which way. The cars in front of me slowly made their way past the procession, but they stopped me and quickly the line of cars behind me started adding up. Some of the vehicles toward the back of the procession line started making U-turns and parking on the eastbound side of the road, meanwhile 6 or 7 of the front cars including the hearse and family car slowly pulled onto the road to find a place, apparently, to turn those long vehicles around. Meanwhile, someone was running down the line of cars that had pulled over to the eastbound side and they started taking off (apparently to wait for the hearse and family at the correct turnoff - which turned out to be almost 5 miles down the road). After she told the last car, she turned around and there wasn’t anyone left to give her a ride! While I was sitting there deciding if it was time to proceed myself, I heard this frantic horn honking coming up on my left, looking into my side mirror it was the first part of the funeral procession coming at a pretty good clip down the highway passing us all up with headlights flashing and horns honking on the other side of the road. Through this whole process, not one vehicle came over the hill westbound. Miss Messenger, who was standing by the side of the road, started frantically waving her arms and standing in the middle of the lane. I am happy to report she got picked up by one of the cars and they all proceeded to where they were suppose to originally turn off.

Wednesday, I arrived in beautiful sunshine weather, but that soon turned to overcast, drizzly and rainy during the night. That weather was expected to last through the whole weekend and through the Festival that, I soon learned, was taking place throughout the whole County.

But, first I have to tell you about the - I’ll say - “assertive” intrusion upon my serene start of my stay at the Lacey-Keosauqua State Park, located just outside Keosauqua (Kee-0-sock-wa). I arrived expecting to almost have the pick of sights, but not so as all the “reservable” sites were reserved and a number of the non-reservable sites were taken. So I selected a sight up close to the showers/rest rooms, The site was non-reservable, but had a sign on the site post that said it was “Reserved for the Weekend” but that it was available during the week M-F. Okay, I was going to stay 2 nights, maybe 3 (Fri. night was questionable, depending on whether they counted that as a week or weekend night).

I got partially set up, checked out the availability for 3 nights and found nothing on the list of reserved sites and went to register. I asked a lady registering too what was going on. She replied, “There is a big countywide Festival going on in all the Villages and this campground will be pretty full by Friday night.” Oh no, I groaned thinking “there goes my serenity.” She went on to tell me all that was going on and it became more and more interesting and she gave me a brochure. The activities are endless with standard festival activities - parade, food, crafts, music & entertainment and out here at the State Park there was going to be a Pre-1840 Buckskinners Rendezvous Camp plus a Native American POW WOW at Farmington. Just the environment made me want to stay, so I decided 4 nights instead of 2 or 3 - and, hey at $11/ night with electricity not bad! Well, now at 4 nights I knew I would have to move so what day would it be - Thursday or Friday morning, I decided.

Still not knowing for sure about Friday night, I tried calling the Park office several times but couldn’t get a human being but a recording telling me all the reservable sites were filled and to go ahead and take a non-reservable site and then register. So I am sitting in my trailer having a nice cup of hot tea, when there is this hard knock at my door - guess they thought they’d pound hard so they could be heard at the back of the trailer! This woman is standing there and she said something to the effect “This is the camp hosts spot and I am the camp host for this weekend, you’ll have to move.” I said, “But it says on the site post this site is available during the week and reserved for the weekend. (Didn’t tell her at that point I had registered for 4 nights) She told me that didn’t mean anything and asked me if I called the Park office. I said I did twice and all I got was a recording telling me to take a non-reserved site and according to the diagram, this site was “a non-reservable one” and there wasn’t any listing for #34 on the reserved list posted. Well, I’ll just have to go talk with the Park Supervisor and see what to do as I called him earlier to see if I could come down early and set up and he said sure, she said. You see I am a board member of the Friends for Lacey-Keosaqua State Park and we help out when we can. (Push-push-push a little weight here) A gentleman, registering, said that technically I had the sight as I had put my money and registration form in the deposit box already but she wasn’t hearing any of that. Off she went.

Meanwhile, I decided that it wasn’t worth carrying on like this and have one or both of us fuming, so I decided to move to another site that was still open. This very nice gentleman helped me pick out a sight as he was very familiar with all the peculiarities of each campsite, having served as a camp host for several years in the past. The problem with almost 95% of the campsites here is that they slant quite a bit - side to side and front to back and in some cases both, they really need to spend some time leveling and putting in more gravel in these sights (think the Friends for L-K State Park need to get a letter telling them to have a work day and level these sights, since the State Park system is in financial dire straits) So I found one and moved the registration card you put on the post to let people know my new sight is taken. Well, Ms Board Member of the Friends of L-K State Park comes back and said first “He wants to talk to you, he’s going to tell you to move.” Before she said anymore I told her I was going to move and before the Supervisor got but 3 words out of his mouth, over the phone, I told him I was already preparing to move, I didn’t need any agitation right now and it would just be easier. Life is too short. He thanked me very much and I later learned he’s a bit anxious now as his wife’s baby is due anytime - and as Ms Board Member of the Friends of L-K State Park said: “Of all the weekends to have a baby due!”

Ms Board Member of the Friends of L-K State Park and her friend did pick up my tire chocks to help speed things along and did set my chocks around the wheels after I got backed in. Anyhoo, I was expecting Ms Board Member to be set up and ready to “greet one and all” upon their arrival for this festive weekend; but, nope she just parked her pop-up tent trailer, setting the levelers and left and didn’t show up until Friday afternoon.

Geezzzzzz, what a day and I only drove about 50 miles!

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