Monday, August 13, 2012

A Resort Getaway - Lake Paradise Resort

We always camp in state parks, Corps of Engineers parks, or in one case, a county park.  This past weekend we decided to try camping in a resort.

Lake Paradise opened in the 1970s as a private campground and cabin resort that required a membership.  Recently (within the last couple of years, I think), the resort was sold and the new owners have made it a public resort.

Located just east of Lone Jack, MO, the resort is boasts more than 500 campsites, from primitive tent sites to full hookups for RVs.  There is a restaurant, a laundry room, shower house, several "comfort stations" (restrooms), a small arcade and a banquet/party facility available for rent.  The park also includes a wi-fi hot spot, mini golf, an archery range, shuffleboard and a baseball diamond.  There are several fishing lakes and what is said to be the largest outdoor pool in the state, as well as a park store.

We really enjoyed the rural setting and felt as if we were much farther than an hour away from the city.  The weather was wonderful, much cooler than it has been on recent trips, and we were actually able to have a campfire this time.  I don't know if the burn ban has been lifted statewide, but it had been lifted at this park. 

Unfortunately, the pool was not open.  The extreme heat and size of the pool make it difficult to keep chemically adjusted.  This really didn't matter to us, but it would have been a big disappointment for Kat if she had been with us.

Our site had two picnic tables, and a third in back that may also have "belonged" to us.  What a luxury that would have been back in the pop-up or tent camping days!

Overall, the park was very quiet.  There were plenty of folks there, but none in our immediate vicinity.  Some areas of the park appear to have full-time, or at least full-season, campers.  We had a pretty creek bed just outside our back window; it would have been prettier had there been water in it.

Again, this weekend was about getting away and relaxing.  Contrary to the park brochure, we were able to access the internet from our campsite (instead of just at the hot spot), so we spent a good deal of time online.  I was glad for this because I'd forgotten my recipes and was able to find them all online.  Shane spent some time fishing and messing around with the guitar ("playing" would be a stretch at this point).   I was able to spend some time crocheting.  We both got some reading time in, and we attempted to view the Perseids meteor shower, but with very little luck. 

Crocheted Fingerless Gloves
Now that the heatwave is over, I'm thinking about cooler weather.

We didn't leave camp from the trim we arrived on Friday afternoon until we checked out around 10:00 on Sunday morning.  The early checkout time was a drawback, but we definitely plan to come back next year if we can determine that the pool is open for Kat to enjoy.

Parked at Lake Paradise Resort
Lone Jack, MO
August 10-12, 2012

The Food - August 10-12, 2012

When Kat isn't with us at camp, we tend to eat spicier food and/or foods she doesn't care for.  Here is what we ate this weekend:

Friday p.m.:  One-Pouch Feast, home-canned potatoes fried with onions, Caramelized Sweet Corn and Zucchini

Saturday a.m.:  Bacon-Tomato-Cheese Crescent Rolls, additional bacon

Saturday noon:  Smoked sausage on buns, chips, dip

Saturday p.m.:  Spicy Grilled Shrimp,  leftover side dishes from night before

Sunday brunch:  We had planned to try the restaurant in the resort, but when we drove by, it didn't appear to be open, so we ate at the Country Pride Restaurant at the TA Truck Stop in Oak Grove, MO.  While it wasn't bad, it wasn't anything to write home about.


Parked at Lake Paradise Resort
Lone Jack, MO
August 10-12, 2012

Dad Came for a Visit...

...but we don't have a spare bedroom for guests.

Well, we do now!  We just plugged in, slid out the slides, and gave Dad his own digs for the night.

We were afraid he might feel like we were sending him out to the dog house, so we made sure to offer him a bed in the house, but he was all for having a little place of his own.

If you have a camper, have you ever used it in your own backyard?


Parked in our backyard in
Belton, MO
August 3-4, 2012

Low Water at the Lake - Sparrowfoot Campground

Despite the ongoing heatwave, we hitched up and drove an hour or so south to Truman Lake.  This time we camped at Sparrowfoot Campground, which is a Corps of Engineers park.

Because of the heat, we had the campground nearly to ourselves.  There are two camping loops in the park, and we saw about half a dozen campers in each loop.  Most were in campers of some sort, but there were a few brave (or crazy) tent campers.

We arrived around 5:00 on Friday evening, quickly set up, and headed straight for the beach.  We couldn't believe how low the water lever was.  Here is a picture of Kat and Shane at the ropes.  At the ropes, the water should be chest high on Shane most of the time.  There was also grass growing on the beach; this part of the sand should have been under water.

After sleeping in on Saturday morning, we ran into town (Clinton, MO) only because we needed to pick up foil and a couple of other things at Dollar General.  There was nothing to do in town, and it was too hot to do it, so we headed back to the lake and swam for a couple of hours.  In the early evening, we drove out about five miles to the tiny town of Deepwater, MO (ironic name, yes?) where an ice cream social was going on.  $5 each bought us huge bowls of homemade ice cream -- vanilla, strawberry and/or chocolate, a large serving of homemade cake or pie, and iced tea or coffee.  Ice cream socials seem to be an endangered species, so we wanted Kat to experience one before they fade away entirely.

We spent the evening either reading inside or stargazing outside, and we allowed Kat to watch a movie.  That's something we limit at home and more so when we're camping.

We took our time breaking camp on Sunday morning and were back at home before 1:00, which is rather early for us.

We do a lot of sight-seeing on most of our trips, but this one was more about relaxing and getting away.  It was a nice change.


Parked at Sparrowfoot Campground, Truman Lake
near Clinton, MO
July 20-22, 2012

The Food - July 20 through 22

Our fare this weekend included:

Friday p.m.:  Bratwurts and hot dogs on the grill, potato salad made in advance, sliced tomatoes, watermelon

Saturday a.m.:  Waffles, eggs, hash browns

Saturday noon:  HLTs (ham, lettuce and tomato sandwiches), chips, dip

Saturday p.m.:  Grilled pork chops, Cowboy Potatoes, lettuce salad, corn

Sunday brunch:  HLTs (ham, lettuce and tomato sandwiches), chips, dip


Parked at Sparrowfoot Campground, Truman Lake
near Clinton, MO
July 20-22, 2012

Our "Big" Vacation - Onondaga Cave State Park

When we can, we try to take a trip each year that's a little longer than just a 2- or 3-day weekend.  This year we took a 6-day trip to Southeast Missouri.

We made Onondaga Cave State Park our home base, arriving around 3 p.m. the afternoon of July 4, which is also Kat's birthday.  This is a beautiful park near Leasburg, MO, that is tucked into a valley on the Meramec River in the St. Francois Mountains (Ozark Plateau) of Missouri.  We were set up in plenty of time to enjoy a swim in the Meramec River adjacent to the park and also have birthday cake with Kat after dinner.

Thursday was a busy day for us.  We ventured southeast from the park through the Arcadia Valley to three more state parks. 

The first was Elephant Rocks State Park near Ironton, MO.  It was a hot, hot day, with temps around 106 degrees, but that didn't keep us from climbing all over these huge granite boulders.

From there we drove to Taum Sauk Mountain State Park, near Black, MO, and took in the view from the highest point in Missouri.

And from there, we beat the heat at Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park, also near Black, MO.  We enjoyed playing in the natural water park formation here and stayed until dusk, wishing we had even more time there.

All three of these parks have their own campgrounds, trails and other amenities, and are worth a visit if you find yourself in the area.

On Friday we stayed closer to home base and visited the area towns of Steelville and Cuba, MO.  Steelville is home to many a river rafting business, as was evident by their canoe art throughout the town.  Cuba lies on old Route 66, and boasts some nice Route 66 murals around town.  Just outside of Cuba is Fanning, MO, where we spied the "World's Largest Rocking Chair" and enjoyed a rest in more realistic chairs on the front porch of the Fanning Outpost before heading back to camp.

Saturday we beat the heat again, this time by touring Onondaga Cave, located in the park.  If you enjoy caves, this is an excellent tour.  The cave is home to rare formations, and the tour guides don't follow cheesy scripts.  Our guide was a geology major at nearby University of Missouri in Rolla who had a genuine interest in sharing information about the cave.

We've determined that it rains on 50% of our camping trips, and this trip was no exception.  We were hoping for another swim in the river, but rain kept it from us.  We had wind and heavy rains, and lost our in-park wi-fi for the rest of our stay, but we were luckier than nearby Cuba, where there was a tornado.

Our original plan was to head home on Sunday, but since we'd still not made it back to the river, we decided to extend our vacation by a day.  We spent all day on Sunday in and out of the water.  We headed back home on Monday morning, but it was not because we were ready to leave.


Parked at Onondaga Cave, Meramec River
near Leasville, MO
July 4-9, 2012

The Food - July 4 through 9

Eating at camp makes a longer trip like this one a lot more affordable.  Since we knew we'd be away from camp at midday many days, we decided to budget for lunch to be eaten out each day of our trip.  As it turned out, we only had three restaurant meals the entire time.  In addition to meals, we had plenty of snacks on hand.

It's so unlike me, but I didn't take food pictures on this trip.  You'll have to take my word that this is what we ate:

Wednesday a.m. - Homemade breakfast burritos at home.

Wednesday noon:  We stopped at Daisy Delight in Jefferson City, MO.  Originally opened in the 50s, it's a good old-fashioned burger and ice cream joint.  I would imagine the once had carhop service, but now they have a spacious, clean dining room where we enjoyed our sandwiches.  Kat, being the birthday girl, also enjoyed a very large ice cream cone.

Wednesday p.m.:  Store-bought pulled pork barbecue on buns, potato salad I made at home, and some chips and dip.  Also, 3-2-1 Cupcakes for Kat's birthday.

Thursday a.m.:  Waffles (storebought, frozen), bacon, fried eggs.

Thursday noon:  Sandwiches and fries and Baylee Joe's Barbecue in Ironton, MO.

Thursday p.m.:  Because we were away well into the evening, we stopped and bought Kat a half sub sandwich.  Shane and I waited and had snacks back at camp.

Friday a.m.:  Waffles, bacon, fried eggs.

Friday noon:  Grilled hot dogs on buns, chips and dips, lettuce salad, hummus

Friday p.m.:   Grilled pork chops, macaroni and cheese (yes, the boxed kind), green beans

Saturday a.m.:  Breakfast casserole, hash browns

Saturday noon:  Grilled hot dogs on buns, chips and dips, lettuce salad, hummus

Saturday p.m.:  Grilled steaks, cowboy potatoes, corn on the cob

Sunday a.m.:  Waffles, hash browns

Sunday noon:  Snacks/miscellaneous

Sunday p.m:.  Used up leftovers that were in the fridge, and still had some to take home with us

Monday a.m. - Kat had the last waffle; Shane and I had coffee, but skipped breakfast.

Monday noon: - On advice of the Osage Bluff Quilter, we stopped at Steve's Family-Style Restaurant just outside of Jefferson City, MO in Lohman, MO.  This was THE meal of the entire trip!  The homestyle fried chicken, mashed potatoes with gravy, green beans, slaw and rolls were absolutely delicious.  And the meal stuck with us the rest of the day, meaning I didn't have to cook after our long drive home. 


Parked at Onondaga Cave State Park
near Leasburg, MO
July 4-9, 2012

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Near Disaster on Our Maiden Voyage - Thibault Point Campground

We hitched up the camper the weekend after we purchased it and headed south to Truman Lake and the Thibault Point Campground, which is a Corps of Engineers park.

We were pleasantly surprised at how quickly we were able to set up compared to the travel trailer.  We had our work done and were ready to enjoy our weekend in no time at all.

Kat did not come with us on this first trip because she was scheduled to be with her mom that weekend and didn't want to change those plans.  So it was a nice weekend getaway for just the two of us.

I grew up in this area and swam at the beach in this Corps of Engineers park as a teenager, but I'd never had reason to see the campground.  It was a nice park at about 30% occupancy while we were there.  All of those who were there were clustered at the end of the circle drive, near the lake.

Our site just a few yards from the water.  Kat would have loved the easy access, but since she wasn't with us, we didn't get in.  We enjoyed some great sunsets...

and beautiful mornings, too.

On Saturday, Shane and I took a drive further on to Lake of the Ozarks just to look around and to have lunch.  On Sunday, we went into town (Warsaw, MO) to visit with my dad. 

Overnight we had heavy rains and wind at the campground.  This house, one that I lived in as a child for a couple of years, was damaged, but we were happy to find out that the new camper didn't leak a drop.

Unfortunately, we had some trouble on our drive home.  One of the tires on the truck threw its tread.  The tires were the one thing on the truck that Shane was iffy about.  They were Goodyear tires and we had a similar problem with one of them in the past.

This could have been such a bad situation, but luckily (if such a thing can be lucky), this happened on level highway in moderate traffic and we were in a location where we could easily pull off on a side road to unhitch and change the tire.

As I was watching traffic while Shane changed the tire, I noticed that most drivers didn't even seem to notice that we were there, but without fail, every driver pulling an RV or travel trailer checked us out as they passed.  I'm not sure, but like to think that if any of them had seen we were in over our heads, one or more of them would have stopped to see if we needed help.

We ordered new tires for the truck the next day and had them on within the week.


Parked at Thibault Point Campground, Truman Lake
near Warsaw, MO
June 15-17, 2012