We worked our way quickly west to stage ourselves for the eclipse. We camped along lakes in Mississippi and Arkansas, in the sand hills of Nebraska, and finally in our beloved Wyoming mountains.
I am en route again. I’m in the Delta SkyClub in Newark after flying standby from Atlanta and I’m enjoying the complimentary red blend wine. The premium wines can be bought with SkyMiles of which I have naught right now. A glass of good red costs 400 miles. If the glass of wine is worth $8, then that makes SkyMiles worth about 2¢ a piece. Not bad!
Cute State Welcome Centers
I like it when welcome centers try to mirror the culture of the state they represent. When we crossed into Mississippi from Alabama we stopped by the antebellum style welcome center. The design reminds us of our own 160-year-old historic home in Georgia. Free coffee, rocking chairs on the porch and warm southern hospitality welcomed us to the state.
The Arkansas welcome center was built from logs, had a huge wood burning fireplace, and play areas for kids. Again, free coffee, rocking chairs and friendly people.
Four One-Night Stands (Campsites)
I’ve told you my woeful tale of our first night camping in the heat at Chewalla Springs (fire ants, etc.) I forgot to mention that it starting raining about 6:00 am, so we packed everything up in a rush and got on the road by 6:30 am. We don’t like these scenarios, but we do use them to look for small cafes and diners where we can have breakfast and coffee with the locals. We did find one in Holly Springs, which is a small and cute historic town.
Harry S. Truman Lake, National Recreation Area, Warsaw, AR
The second night we camped on the large and shallow Lake Truman at the Long Shoal National Recreation Area campground in Warsaw, Missouri. The lake was murky, warm and shallow which discouraged us from taking a swim. There was a lot of complaining about the heat when we tried to settle down in the stifling tent. I suggest to B. that we sleep head to toe to have the illusion of space and coolness, with the added benefit that I could easily kick him in the head if the complaining didn’t stop. The relentless humidity peaked with the onset of morning rains once again. Another quick camp breakdown and pack in the rain. No cute cafes for us this morning–we stopped for coffee at MacDonalds.
Bessey Recreation Center, Nebraska National Forest, Halsey, NE
Our third day of driving brought us through back roads to cooler and drier Nebraska. The campground du jour was at the Bessey Recreation Center in Halsey, NE. We finally had a comfortable night in the tent where it was actually cool enough to get inside our sleeping bags. Good thing we had brought our ear plugs though, as a coal train passes the campground about every 30 minutes at all hours of the day and night. We slept well with the earplugs and in the morning we got to leisurely enjoy our own excellent coffee and breakfast. We took a morning bike ride up to a fire observation tower to have a look at the Sand Hills.
Looking Out Over the Nebraska Sand Hills
The dunes that undulate over the otherwise pancake flat Nebraska landscape formed during the last ice age. The continental glaciers scraped up everything down to bedrock as they moved south during the Pleistocene. The cold winds blowing from the north deposited the sand in huge dunes at southern terminus of the glaciers. You can see the extent and size of the dunes from the lookout tower that is about 3 miles from the campground.
Curtis Gulch Campground, Laramie National Forest, Douglas, WY
Later that morning we got back on the road to Wyoming. Our next stop was the Curtis Gulch campground on La Bonte creek near Douglas, WY. B and I went back to this campground many times when we worked in Casper. We used to walk up the creek and stay in an old cabin on Forest Service land that B. had reroofed many years ago. We were so excited to be back in the wide-open spaces of Wyoming and back to La Bonte creek.
Next up– we try to establish a staging area for the eclipse.