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  • Writer's pictureTrail Guide Joe

2022 Campout #1 - St Francois State Park

With almost half of 2022 already over... the first camping trip of the year was LONG overdue! Why has it taken almost 6 months to get the first trip of the year in? Lots of reasons! Mostly the weather though... With it being rather chilly through spring with a sudden week of summer followed by a week of true spring (warmer but lots of rain), this weekend was looking almost good! I say almost because we had a chance of severe storms on one of the nights... Determined not to let that hamper my plans, reservations were in, and I was ready to roll out!

Hold up... The price of gas is what again?! The last time gas prices were this high was roughly 10 years ago. Even then, the price of gas was only around $4/gal. Sitting at a record $4.29/gal, we were well beyond even that once wretched price of 10 years ago. I bring this up because 10 years ago, when prices were at or just above $4/gal, I made it a personal goal not to buy gas at that price. $3.98 maybe but not $4 or more. That lifetime streak just came to an end. Ouch.

Another important note, if you have not yet realized, is that this would be the first trip with the new truck, the replacement to the Ram, the Colorado ZR2! The new truck could not have come at a better time either! With gas prices at astronomical levels, the Ram hurting for power and fuel economy due to various ailments, it was necessary to give it a break and start breaking in a new daily driver. Post-trip, I determined I saved as much as $25 on gas alone comparing stats from the last trip with the Ram and the stats of this trip. That will be significant by the end of the year and years to come!


And now, back to the much needed first campout of the year!

The park of choice, St. Francois State Park, would be one I was familiar with as I have camped here before, typically in the off-season of March for the yearly kayak races held further south of this location. It would be nice for a change getting to stay at the park rather than use it as a home base to reach a different destination. With an eye to the weather, we would set out on Friday and reach the park before dark, something I am not all that use to if you haven't realized from earlier postings. It would surely be welcomed though, I have to (jokingly) admit, it is harder to setup a tent when you can see what you're doing when you've had so much practice in setting up a tent when you can't see what you're doing! Since the weather forecast was promising rain that evening, I didn't attempt a fire or even bring firewood. Instead, it was time enough for dinner, a leisurely stroll through the park campground, and then off to bed.

By next morning, it was clear that the forecast was wrong about the chances for rain. With only a few raindrops evident in the pollen dusting across the hood of the truck, everything was very much as dry as it was the day before. That for sure would be a win! We would try some alternative activities as we set off for a local farmer's market in the nearby town of Farmington where we would pick up a few items of interest (Red Bud jam) and head back to camp where we would catch a bluegrass music jam session. I have to say, those boys could play once they got warmed up however, it was far more fun to listen to their banter with the crowd and with each other. Great humor and talent among the lot for sure! We would later head back to camp for lunch before taking a short hike before the heat of the day arrived where we would explore the area for wildflowers in bloom. Quite the sight which brings me a new appreciation for this time of year! As long as I can actually tell when spring begins... it would be nice to try to get out more and catch these beautiful displays!

Since the first chance of rain was, happily, a bust, I decided to pick up some firewood for the evening just because you got to have a campfire if you can. It just wouldn't be right otherwise! It wouldn't be long after I lit the fire that the ominous, dark clouds would be circling again and, glancing at the radar a few times, we determined our luck against the rain would not hold out. All it took was a campfire to break the clouds open as, shortly after sunset, the rain started falling. It wasn't a downpour though places very close by certainly got the brunt of the rain! By morning, things were damp but looking rather dry still even though it definitely rained.

Even though it did rain, it was still not what was predicted in the forecast or to the amounts I would have guessed so I again call that a win! Anytime I can bring the tent home dry, I will always count that as a win.


Breaking down camp and rolling out around lunch time, it would take almost no time to be back home again. Just as I remembered, the feeling was not enjoyable. What was enjoyable, as mentioned before, was the fuel economy statistics! Given my last fuel economy stats on a comparable trip to this one with the Ram, it was welcomed relief at the pump knowing I had saved so much! That's not to say that the camping trip itself wasn't enjoyable as it very much was and one that I will need to hold on to until I can get into the next campsite.

Span of 3 days; Approximately 185.2 miles; Approximately 10.928 gallons of gas used; Approximate average MPG 17.02; Approximately $46.98 spent on gas.


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