A week of expletives!

23 May

We have certain four letter words we just don’t permit, s**w; r**n: p**n (snow rain and plan) I think I am going to add some longer no-no words – thunder and lightening!

After a sleepless night last Friday we expected that all the stormy weather would have blown away, we spent the dull, damp, week-end in Harrison washing and catching up on the internet then Monday morning drove the ? miles to Eureka Springs and Wanderlust Campground. We had chosen this site as the trolley service stops outside the campground and we could use it to see the sights.

The campground sits on a ridge with wooded valley’s below on both sides, a very pretty site. Having got settled in we went to buy our tickets for the trolley from the office, and watched the 2.30pm service sail past before we could get to the stop! The next one should only be 30 minutes away so no worries….. 50 minutes later still no trolley….. a truck pulled up alongside us and the driver called out asking where we were going and offering a lift, we accepted gratefully. Turns out he was a local restaurant owner ( he offered me the menu to peruse whilst we travelled!!), he kindly dropped us off at the top of the town so we could walk down the hill and having seen all we wanted to see, maybe, we would like to eat in the “best restaurant in town”.

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A town of interesting Victorian buildings Eureka Springs is very much a tourist destination with the emphasis on visual art and crafts. It is also known for its Passion Play which takes place every Tuesday night in the summer period not too far from the campground.

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A spring town built on a hill was always going to have an issue with running water you would think. Back in its conception years water running along Main Street and the mud it caused (its local name became Mud Street) was deemed enough of a problem for the road level to be raised culverting the stream below. This was fine except that some of the properties ground level floors now became basements and the original basements were further below ground. Apparently the water still flows in these basements in many properties.

The properties on the upper side of town, some having 5, 6 or 7 storeys tower above the lower town, to enable easy access between the too parts steps were built to link them.

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The elusive trolley service tours three routes around the town ferrying tourists to view the historical properties and resting weary legs after a long day of walking up and down the hills and steps. We made sure of our return travel by finding the transit centre where all the routes arrive and depart, taking the last but one trolley of the day at 5.30pm back to the campground.

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Our onward journey from Arkansas needs to take us via the Chicago vicinity. Being seasoned travellers now (and having been caught once too often) we were aware the upcoming Memorial Day week-end, the start of camping season, meant we had to p**n our route and pre book some campgrounds. We thought we would take a little time while we had good internet access to look at this, then after lunch take a trip out to a nearby lake. By 3pm we had become so confused, stressed and fed up with the ‘p’ word we had to take a walk around the campground to cool off! This gave us an opportunity to stop and chat to some fellow campers from California exchanging stories, places of interest and campground information. Suitably refreshed we managed to complete our schedule for the following 10 days, hopefully this will enable us to arrive at the shore of Lake Michigan on June 2nd.

Our journey across the US and Canada has now clocked up 20,000 miles on haRVey’s odometer, at each 5,000 miles he needs fresh oil which needs to be carried out at a Ford garage for warranty compliance. Not wanting to get into techy stuff here but our engine is a Triton V10 which also is put into smaller  dimension vehicles than ours and can be easily serviced by most Ford garages. We need the sort of premises which service larger dimension vehicles, these usually are in larger towns.  Our p**ned route would allow us to stop off in Springfield, Missouri to accomplish this service Thursday so an appointment was arranged. Table Rock State Park just in Missouri made a good overnight stopping place for Wednesday part way between Eureka Springs and Springfield.

This was our first State Park in Missouri and we were impressed with the nice concrete pads and full hook up facility it offered for $26. We got settled had some lunch and contemplated an afternoon walk on the lakeside trail to the visitor centre and nice 4.2mile round trek. Hmm … dark clouds looming ominously quite quickly opened up a full thunder storm which dropped a considerable volume of r**n on us, pouring down the campground roads making the soggy grass even wetter.

Around an hour later we set off hoping to get in at least part of the walk before any further r**n. As it turned out we managed the whole trail, stopping off at the Showboat paddle steamer to watch coach trippers board for an evenings entertainment. The day ended however with more thunder and lightening and yet more r**n. The storm rolled around us almost all night, I am not sure if it quietened down or I fell asleep from sheer exhaustion at around 4am.

Friendly Ford Springfield was neatly placed within walking distance of a shopping mall where we whiled away the time as haRVey was getting pampered. On collecting him we were told a clunking noise we had asked to be investigated is a part which will need replacing, not a serious issue (thankfully a warranty job) – another town another Ford garage to visit….

We deemed we had enough time that afternoon to get us across to the Lake of the Ozarks State Park and we did not need to use our fall back campsite p**n twenty minutes drive away. We set off in good spirits. At some point it occurred to me the State Park covered a large areas at one end of the Lake of the Ozarks and that the actual campground was not marked on the State Map. No worries we thought, there are always good road signs for the State Parks. We passed by a turning for the caverns at the Ozarks State Park not much further along the road spotting a sign which looked to be for the main area. We had not spotted it soon enough however and had to drive on, turn around and retrace our steps to the drive way. The first sign we saw on entering was NO CAMPING! taking a short turn around the immediate area sure enough this was a boat launch and Marina and not camping. Robert seemed to recall the Google map showing the camping area in another part of the lake, we headed off back down the road just travelled and turned in where the caverns sign directed. Nearer to the State Park Caverns a further sign indicated ‘primitive camping’ – not usually suitable for 36feet long Motor Homes!

We travelled further thinking we must come to the campground eventually. Probably 45 minutes later we pulled in to a rough car park in a small town to get our bearings and consult our Good Sam directory for the nearest private campground. A further 11 miles and a few narrow bumpy roads later we pulled into  Gasconade Hills Resort at Hazelgreen.  Our host checked us in and sympathised with our tale of woe regarding the State Park whereabouts, she made a phone call for us to try to get directions and with the help of her fellow host furnished us with enough information to get us on the correct road next day.

We were just grateful for somewhere to park our wheels, even if it was a little damp and muddy after recent rain. In all we had completed over 200miles, around 50 of those were looking for the campground. So much for p**ns. To add insult to injury the sunny afternoon turned darker towards 7pm, distant rumblings and the occasional flash warned of yet another storm which eventually dropped yet more r**n on us. I suppose one consolation is it hasn’t s**wed!!!!!!

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