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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Back from Our First Big Trip in the Camper

The last couple of weeks have been really busy as we worked like crazy people to get ready for a ten day trip to Missouri. Four days before we left, we had new tires put on the pickup. The new water pump arrived that afternoon and Hubby cracked it when he put it on. So I ordered another one (cha ching). Luckily, we just signed up for Amazon Prime so didn't have to pay extra for the two day delivery. Three days before we left, Hubby picked up the new axle and put it on. The next evening the water pump arrived and he put it on the day before we left. Talk about bringing it down to the wire!

Meanwhile, I was prepping and freezing meals so we didn't have to spend a lot of time cooking and washing dishes. I also did laundry, loaded the camper, and generally got us ready to leave when Hubby got home from work Thursday. As we started to pull out of the driveway, I was thinking about all the things that had gone wrong with this pickup and hoping we had everything fixed. Then I remembered we hadn't prayed for this trailer and asked Hubby to stop so we could pray for the trailer, our trip, and all the people we would meet along the way. That may have been the most important thing we did on the entire trip.

We were hoping to make it to Lake Eufaula before dark on Thursday, but driving through Dallas rush hour (which is well underway by 4:00) slowed us down. But as we neared the Oklahoma state line, the sun was going down and we decided to stay at Eisenhower State Park. I'd tell you about the park, but we didn't really get a good look at it. I will tell you that the signs on Hwy 75 took us on an unnecessary route through winding residential roads instead of directly from the highway. So we arrived at the check in at dusk and didn't even bother to unhitch when we set up. Just enough to be able to get through the night. What we didn't realize at the time is that this park, and maybe all Texas State Parks, allow campers to come in after hours and use the honor system to check in. All the state parks in Missouri required 24 hour preregistration.

It took us a lot longer to get to Branson than we anticipated, and even longer to find the campground where we had reservations. Once again, we came in at dusk and it was full dark when we found the campground. The office was closed and as I searched for the phone number, Hubby drove past the office and down a gravel road which went around a curve and up a steep hill. And the pickup couldn't pull the camper up the hill. By then I had the park owner on the phone and he said he was on his way. Then, our friend who lives there arrived, and Hubby backed up and made a run at the hill and got up it this time, circled back around and pulled into our spot. By this time, Hubby and I were both a bit frazzled from driving all day, especially with the hills and winding roads in Missouri, and our friends wanted us to come over to their house. They had dinner waiting. So after a quick hookup, we left.

The next morning, Hubby set up the screened room, even though the site wasn't level enough, and we met our friends for a day at Silver Dollar City. It is Harvest Festival at Silver Dollar City, where a lot of artists set up booth to sell their work and many of them demonstrate their skills too. Technically, it's Harvest and Cowboy Festival. Most of the art was cowboy or western. Buck Taylor, Newly O'Brien on Gunsmoke, was there with his artwork. And this is where I have to admit that I'm a bad, bad, blogger. I was three feet from him and it didn't even occur to me to take a photo. There was also country music bands, cowboy poets, square dancing and swing dancing. We caught a couple of country music shows, looked at all the booths, bought food, and walked a lot. All uphill. It was a cool 61 degrees that day and after we left the park, we had to go by Walmart to pick up a few items, one being a jacket for me, and a blanket for Hubby. We only brought windbreakers with us and one quilt for the bed and we were cold! That evening we went to Danna's BBQ, our favorite, and then went back to our friends' condo for a game of 42, men versus women. They won.

The next day we went to church with our friends and did some shopping. That afternoon we had tickets to see Rhonda Vincent and The Rage. Of course. Do we ever go to Branson without seeing them? See what great tickets we had? Fifth row!

Again, I didn't take a decent camera and my cell phone camera refused to take a decent picture of her on stage. So I cheated and took a picture of the big screen beside the stage. I think the spotlight was directly on her and whiting out the image on the camera. I noticed the man in front of me having the same problem. So his pictures of Rhonda Vincent show a white image where she was standing - he never thought to take a picture of the screen.

 Shooting at the stage:

Shooting at the screen:

These are all the pictures I took on our trip. I didn't take any with the good camera. I took it, I just didn't use it. Space is so limited in the camper that I found the perfect safe place for it - so safe that I couldn't get to it without pulling drawers out of a cabinet. So it stayed there the entire trip. I'll find a better spot for it next time.

That evening we went back to their condo and we taught them to play double pinochle. They caught on quickly and said they liked the game, so FINALLY, we have someone to play with! This time we played opposite each other's spouse and Gary and I were on the verge of winning when Maryann drew the hand of a lifetime and then pulled a card from the pot that made it even better. Beginners have all the luck! We told her she would probably never see a hand like that so Gary took pictures of it! lol

The next morning, we broke camp and headed for Saint Louis, specifically a city park campground in St. Peters. Once again, we arrived just past dusk. This park was new and nice but needs a few years for the "trees" to grow. They're more like Charlie Brown's Christmas trees right now. But the campground is on water (they call it a lake, but it's really a big pond) and we rented kayaks one day and paddled around until our shoulders were stiff.

Our daughter took a couple of days off and our son-in-law took a day off too. We ate out, visited with them, played with our granddog, and saw the movie, The Martian, in 3D. Good movie, but a bit long. After a couple of days with them, we took off again to visit our other daughter in Tulsa. We finally managed to arrive while it was still daylight even though we haven't got the hang of getting out of the campground before 10 am. This time we stayed at a park that was right beside the interstate. I was a little worried about the noise, but there was a berm separating the park from the highway noise so it was really just white noise, especially with the fan running in the camper. The only real noise came from permanent residents at the park leaving for work in the early morning hours.

We had less time in Tulsa, but still managed to see some sights, eat out, check out Brownie's radiator (it's cracked), and see the movie, The War Room. Great movie, I highly recommend it. Take kleenex when you see it. I didn't, and now I have to wash my jacket.

Even though I had most meals prepared ahead of time, breakfast was taking up a lot of time every morning. Saturday morning in Tulsa, we decided to make pancakes. And bacon. Since there is no counter space in this camper, I set the plastic lid of the bacon container at the back of the oven while I baked the bacon. When I picked it up later, there was a big hole melted in it from the vent at the back. I was bummed. I loved that Tupperware container. But live and learn. It's been awhile since I've cooked with gas. The meal was good, but it took awhile to cook and even longer to clean up. I've got to come up with a more efficient way of washing dishes. Sunday morning we just ate cereal, wrapped our dirty dishes in towels, and packed them in the sink for the trip home. It was 9 a.m. before we pulled out and we had battened down the cabinets the night before. Still, it was the earliest we had gotten out of the camper the entire trip, so it was an improvement.

What is normally a five hour trip (in a car, at least) took us almost seven hours. We were driving into the wind and tractor-trailers passing us felt like they were pushing us off the road. It wasn't a bad trip until we got to the outskirts of Dallas, somewhere around McKinney. That's where the road construction started, with concrete barriers inches outside the lane, and sharp curves where traffic was diverted to one side of the divided highway while the other was being worked on. There, the lanes were narrowed to make room for four lanes AND the concrete barriers. It was bumper to bumper traffic and white knuckle time; I was so glad I wasn't the one driving. I noticed that there were no other vehicles pulling trailers as far as I could see, not even tractor-trailers. Somehow, they all must have known about the construction and taken a different route. I was watching the space between the camper and the barrier and warning Hubby when the wheels of the camper came too close to the barrier. He didn't appreciate that, so then I just shut up and prayed.

Finally, after 30 or 40 miles, the construction ended, the lanes widened, and we could relax a bit. Then we merged onto I20, familiar territory, and breathed a sigh of relief that the hard part was over. The highway speed limit was 70 but we were in the outside lane getting ready to merge onto I35 and our lane was going about 50 miles per hour. Suddenly someone darted into our lane about 3 cars ahead of us, still going 70 and then slammed on the brakes when they realized our lane was going slower. Everyone behind them had to hit the brakes too and the sound of squealing brakes drowned out the radio. Despite having a good distance between us and the pickup in front of us, we knew we weren't going to be able to stop in time. I say there was a good distance, but anyone driving in bumper to bumper traffic knows there is never two car lengths between cars, much less the extra long space we needed to stop a trailer. I could feel the thumping pull of the trailer brakes and watched in fear as we closed in on the pickup in front of us. When we finally stopped, there were three to six inches between our bumper and the bumper of that pickup. Then I looked in the side mirror and the trailer was still straight behind us, not even a fish-tail. Thank God for electric brakes and His hand on us! With all the cars involved in that, both in front and behind us, there wasn't one fender bender.

When we got home (before dark this time), I was almost afraid to open the camper door. I was afraid I'd find food and appliances in a broken mess on the floor. But when I opened the door, everything was in place. And everything was in place in every cabinet also. Nothing on the trailer broke during the trip, and the only casualties of the trip was an outside light cover and a broken lid on the water filter. All in all, a good trip.


  1. Glad you had a good trip and made it home safely. Next time will be easier.


  2. Here you are almost home and almost get in an accident. I'm glad you didn't. That idiot was a big idiot.

    I'm glad you had a great trip. I love to go on adventures. I like doing mine on a boat, but it's almost the same. We just RV on the water.

    Have a fabulous day and welcome home. ☺

  3. The first time out with a camper is always an experience. I'm glad you had a good time and got home safely.

  4. Aren't you glad you started with prayer. Glad it was mostly a good time for you two. Now you need to rest.

  5. Sounds like a wonderful trip till right there at the end. I hate Dallas traffic. When we lived south of Houston, we'd have to drive through it to see both sets of parents.

    I grew up in St. Peters, but haven't been back in years.

  6. I am so glad you had a fun and safe trip! Meeting up with friends and family sounds lovely too. Traffic lately seem bad everywhere and then there are the crazy drivers to look out for. Enjoy your new week ahead!

  7. Your post brought back so many memories - good and bad. That was the way I felt about our camper too, I loved taking it out - and hated it. I remember the white knuckle times, setting up camp, and trying to stow everything to get away. Time always was longer than we thought. I also remember going through the mountains in Utah with my husband not taking the cruise control off to pull the mountains - and burning up part of the transmission while I sat there cringing. He doesn't take criticism well - especially while driving.

    I wish you many happy miles and hours in your camper!


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