Finally, after taking a roughly 3 month break from camping, due to the peak heat of summer, it was time to get back at it!
The destination, in case the weather didn't cooperate, was Mark Twain State Park, one I have been to many times before. Named for the famous author of the same (pseudo) name, Mark Twain would provide a fair balance of shade to keep cool, if it was going to be hot, and sun to keep warm if it happened to be cold. Of course, there is also the lake to beat the heat in the most drastic cases. There just wasn't a way I could go wrong with this trip!
The plan, like all great plans, was to get a jump start on the trip by leaving early, beating traffic, and avoid setting up in the dark. Like many great plans... that didn't work. It was a longer drive due to the late departure and, consequently, getting stuck in traffic. This would prompt me to make a stop for dinner in town along the way. Due to driving, I could only snack on the fries while hoping to make it to camp before the real dark set in. My plan was a success making it to camp just as the sunset and that meant it was time for the rest of my dinner! Before I could sit and enjoy my burger, it was time for a quick, and I do mean quick, bathroom break. In the few minutes I was away, my burger was gone! Despite the noise and other people around the campsite area, presumably, a raccoon got my burger and ran off with it scattering the goodness across my site! Not the best way to start a camping trip though, truthfully, I should have known better than to leave my food unattended... With no other easy option for dinner, I finished my setup of camp in the dark and headed for the tent.
The next morning would see me awaken to the neighbors. I would have to say these neighbors were not my favorites as far as camping neighbors go. It was a rather large group of kids and, as you might imagine, they were quite disruptive. Even worse, to the other side of the group camp, a gentleman there decided the public water spigot was the perfect place to strip for a shower despite the open and available shower facilities at the park. I knew the pandemic was bringing more people out into the parks but come on, what is this? The barn?!
While the group of kids was at their most rowdy, I decided it was time for a hike. Not wanting to fall victim to the chiggers in this area, as I did in 2017, I opted for a much more hiker-friendly trail within the park itself. I set out on the Post Oak Trail tying into the White Oak trail before looping back around to finish the Post Oak Trail. Returning to camp, I found the rowdy group of kids had set up some sort of soccer/volley ball mashup game in the campground loop road. They were making it rather difficult for traffic to get by especially when they wouldn't move their game until the vehicle demonstrated it was unable to go around by any other way... Now, I'm not opposed to having fun and playing games on a camping trip. I'm just the opposite! But be courteous to your fellow campers and don't make it difficult for them to have a nice, relaxing campout because you want to play games and couldn't be bothered to move out of their way. I did find it funny as they were quick to move when the park ranger made it through the loop. The next camper vehicle, of course, had to wait... Oh well, what can you do? How about some fishing!
Having finished my dinner early, I was hoping to get to the spillway of Clarence Cannon Dam, a family favorite and place where I tend to have a decent amount of luck, usually. Unfortunately, like many of my fishing trips these days, I did not have luck on my side. I did catch a few good pictures of the rising moon and even a water snake making its way up stream.
Tonight, being the last night of camping for the weekend, was the best night I could ask for to get a great campfire going! After all, that's one of the best parts of camping!
The next morning would bring a welcome sight! The group of kids were up, quietly, and packing pretty early. Too bad I wouldn't be staying to experience a day without them! This time, while packing my gear, I would be sure not to leave anything behind. This would be yet another successful camping trip!
Span of 3 days; Approximately 5 hours and 46 minutes of cumulative driving; Approximately 275.2 miles; Approximately 20.41 gallons of gas used; Approximate average MPG 13.48; Approximately $36.73 spent on gas; Average fuel consumption rate 3.539 gallons per hour.