Saturday, September 20, 2008

Catfish morning, Cow Town afternoon.

Sept. 18 –

Lazy morning at Atchison State Fishing Lake near Atchison, KS. Great find, thanks to our “free camping” book. Some of the campgrounds are, in fact, free, but others charge up to $12. This one was free, and I opted to move on to test it out after finding Lewis & Clark State Park (MO) campground unreasonable – the $9 tents sites, for which we qualified because we desired no hookups of any kind, were at the far edge of camp not only far from the restrooms and play area, but immediately across a wood-slat fence from backyards of the neighborhood! Why would I want to pay to camp in a stranger’s backyard? Given that the camp was less than 50% occupied, I asked if we could park closer to the restrooms and campground and be charged the same rate if we just didn’t hook up to facilities. What frustrated me was that the camp “host” didn’t even give it a thought, perhaps look around at the ½ unoccupied camp, the late hour (6 p.m.) and the slim chance that a crowd was going to come in and need all those sites. Without pausing for breath, he said, “Have to charge you for hookups, then.” So, we moved on and it turned out to be a great thing!

Atchison Lake was relatively remote (about 4 miles down some dirt roads out of Atchison) and likely visited largely by locals. We pulled in shortly before sunset, after which one boat pulled off the lake and one family headed home leaving us to our own devices. We parked on a jetty designed for camping (there are half a dozen of these on the lake), made camp, had our campfire and enjoyed all the interesting nighttime noises here – different owls, a beaver or raccoon that splashed about, catfish that splashed into the night. Very peaceful night, and wonderful morning. Catfish for breakfast, boy are their skins TOUGH! Flat tire in Atchison, quick fix at Town & Country Tire which should be called the PitStop for their speed of service! WHEW!

Gates BBQ in Kansas City (mmmm), then National Trails HQ Museum. By its name, I expected a lot from this museum. It’s a warehouse with a decent display of journal entries, but otherwise fairly disappointing. The girls did have fun loading a wagon (on a scale which told them if they loaded too MUCH stuff) and their mule pack (three baskets, loaded and tied evenly on the packing tree). Drove by an amazing church which can be seen for MILES from Independence, MO. Locals call it the Corkscrew Church, though it’s the Reformed LDS Church, now called by another name. Ridiculously large.

Now camping at Blue Springs Campground, $17/night for electricity and shower in gated campground with a park and open space from whence we’re promised deer will show tonight to dine on the fruit in the various trees throughout camp (pears and other as of yet unidentified fruits).

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