Sunday, July 31, 2011

Leaving Lake Wappapello



Our job is over and tomorrow morning we will be moving on. It’s been an interesting two months. We’ve learned we’re not really cut out for camp hosting, although the job hasn’t been hard or unpleasant. I think the thing that bothered us most is the invasion of privacy and essentially being on call 24 hours a day. Not that we had many episodes of late night knocks on the door or calls from the night ranger, but it only took a couple times to spoil it for us. We both worked with the public during our careers and I guess we got our fill of it. Our next volunteer job will be something more like the work we did at Bonneville Dam, maybe at a wildlife refuge. We shall see.

On the other hand this has been a great park, aside from the flooding and unusually hot weather they’ve had this summer, and Jim getting lots of bug bites. Wanda, the superintendant, is really “super” to work for, and truly one of the nicest people we’ve known. She took us and the other volunteers out to lunch, and gave us a couple of cute Lake Wappapello t-shirts. The state of Missouri also treats it’s host well. They give you mileage from your home to the park, or if you’re from out of state, the distance from where you entered Missouri, up to $100. Since we came into MO over 200 miles from here, we surpassed the mileage and will be receiving a check for the $100. Also each of us got two coupons for nights of free camping at any MO state park, which we intend to use before we leave the state. A pretty good deal along with a full hookup site and free laundry. I will especially miss our golf cart and the laundry!

Speaking of laundry, I did the stupidest thing yesterday and washed our volunteer vests along with some other t-shirts. I failed to check the pockets, and Jim had left a pen in his. It made it through the wash undetected, but melted in the dryer. What a big mess! Wanda came by and caught Jim with his head in the dryer trying to clean out the ink with alcohol. I was afraid to tell her I ruined the vests, but she laughed and said they were ours to keep anyway, if we should ever come back and volunteer in Missouri again. Good thing we have no plans to do that!

Jim was even feeling nostalgic about leaving as we were getting things put up today, and also saying goodbye to some of the employees. In our travels we meet people frequently who can’t imagine not having a house to go back to. For us, our little house on wheels is our home wherever we happen to be, and we are very comfortable living this way. As much as we’ve enjoyed our state park backyard these past two months, it is exciting to know we’ll have a different backyard tomorrow. We will miss some of our neighbors, though.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Day Trippin’

Like almost everywhere else in the country, it’s been a very hot week here, mid to upper 90s and enough humidity to really make it unpleasant. We are committed to hang around the park in the evenings, but are free to do as we please during the day. It was just too darn hot for us to get motivated to do much work or exercise, so we took a couple drives to do some sightseeing.
Markham Springs Recreation Area is a National Forest Service campground on the Black River 18 miles west of Lake Wappapello State Park near Williamsville, MO. There was a lumber mill on the site until the 30’s when the next owner built a 5 bedroom concrete and native stone house for his family. There is now a nice little campground that even has electric hookups, and four miles of hiking trails, but it was way too hot to hike. We did get out and look at the old house that was restored in 2010. It can be rented by the day or week.


Yesterday we drove about 25 miles to the Mingo National Wildlife Refuge at Puxico. MO. It was a beautiful drive through the refuge, and although it was almost 100 degrees, we walked up the paved trail to the Monopoly Marsh overlook, which as it turned out wasn’t much to see for the trees.

Mingo National Wildlife Refuge

The 6 mile drive along Bluff Road was well worth it, though, as was the walk we took on the Swampwalk Trail, a one mile boardwalk through the swamps. It didn’t feel too bad in the shade, and surprisingly there were no bugs. We saw quite a few deer, a raccoon, and a turtle.




Yes, all that green is water.

They also have a small boat launch for canoes and kayaks on the Mingo River. Looks like a nice place to paddle.


On the way home we drove through another Army Corps campground, People’s Creek, near the little town of Wappapello. You have to like the name of this old bus converted so it can tow a 5th wheel.


One more week and we’ll be retiring again. Look forward to getting back on the road.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Park Residents

Here are a few pictures we’ve taken of some of the residents of Lake Wappapello State Park.
I have to make nectar everyday to feed our peeps.
There are actually four skunks in this family. They all walked so close together it was hard to tell. They were on a mission and totally ignored us.
This is a brown jumping spider, which jumped on my leg for a brief second until I did my spider dance. Luckily he didn’t bite me since it doesn’t sound like a pleasant experience.
The jumping spider is probably the most common biting spider in the United States. People are caught by surprise and scared when they see the spider jump, especially if it jumps towards them. Bites from a jumping spider are painful, itchy and cause redness and significant swelling. Other symptoms may include painful muscles and joints, headache, fever, chills, nausea and vomiting. The symptoms usually last about 1-4 days.
And finally we have several families of white tailed deer, or maybe we keep seeing the same one in different parts of the park.
The fawns are so cute.
And last night we saw our first buck.
At the Black Bears of Missouri naturalist program last weekend, we learned that although the black bear population is increasing in the state, only one has ever been spotted in the state park. Guess we can quit looking.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

RV Maintenance



The good thing about staying in one place for awhile is it gives us a chance to catch up on all those RV chores we tend to put off while we are busy traveling, sightseeing, hiking, etc. While Jim was inspecting the roof a few weeks ago, he noticed the plastic skylight over the shower was developing some cracks. He’s been putting 303 on it and all the vent covers, but probably not often enough, and the sun just deteriorated it over time.

He did a search on the Lazy Daze Yahoo group and found the name of the manufacturer. When he called, they said they were no longer making this part, so a phone call to the Lazy Daze factory was in order. For those of you who don’t own a Lazy Daze, it is not a quick process to get any parts from them. There is no internet ordering and they don’t accept credit cards. This means you call, find out how much the part and shipping will cost, and send them a check. When they receive it they will send out your order. Not a problem this time, since we were going to be here awhile.

The first surprise came when they quoted a price of $45 for the skylight and $45 shipping. Must be a mistake, right? Nope, that is the shipping cost. So Jim went ahead and sent a check anyway, since they only had a few left. Jim asked if they knew this was no longer being made, which they did, and told him they would have to fabricate something else in the future.

It arrived last week and he decided to paint it first with plastic paint to hopefully give it a little more protection from the sun.

Our $90 piece of plastic! It is a big 23”X23”.


Jim was able to remove the old one with no problem, but the new one didn’t have any predrilled holes, and he had a heck of a time figuring a way to measure for the new holes.The new one also wasn’t cut quite the same, and he needed more hands to help push this in place to screw it down. Since I don’t get on the roof, I was no help, and he really didn’t want to ask anyone for help. That was last Saturday, and he gave up, figuring we were just going to eat the $90, or wait until we got back to California next year and let the factory put it on.

On Monday he called Lazy Daze again to get some helpful hints on how to install the thing. They weren’t very helpful, but did say it was not real easy. So yesterday he was back at it, and this time managed to get the holes right and get it screwed in place. Luckily nobody wants to camp near the hosts, so no one but me had to listen to all the obscenities coming from our roof!


One other thing I did this week was put up a new storage container in the freezer, thanks to our friends Don and Dorothy who posted about it on their RV blog KoKo. If you look at their picture it is the container with the ball in it that I installed using Dual Lock. We’ll see how the adhesive holds up in the freezer. it will be nice to have a bit more useful storage in the door, something that should have come with it in the first place.

Next week’s project is changing the oil and possibly the spark plug in the generator. Are we having fun yet?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Nothing Much Happening Except…


Sunday evening a little after 8 we hopped in the golf cart to make our nightly run to the beach. It was hot and there were still a few cars and some swimmers. What caught our eye was a car with three young people, one working on the lock on the trunk, the other working on the door, and another trying to jam something in a window. Turns out the key broke off in the trunk and they were trying to get in. All they had on them were bathing suits, so their cell phones were in the car. We offered to call someone for them but they said they didn’t know any phone numbers, and there really wasn’t anyone to call to bring another key, as they were from Cape Girardeau, over an hour away.

Jim asked them if they wanted us to call a locksmith and they said yes, so we went back to the RV and  called the park superintendant at home, We thought maybe this had come up before and she knew who to call, but she didn’t. So we got on the internet and found the nearest one in Poplar Bluff. He wanted to talk to them and tell them how much it would be, so we took our cell phone to the beach and got the locksmith back on the phone. When he told one of the guys it would be $100 if he could make a key, and $60 if he could just get the car open, the young woman who owned the car went on a tirade about how she would just break into the car rather than pay the locksmith that much money, etc, using the F word about a dozen times. At that point, we just said “good luck” and left them. And as surprising as it might seem, they never even thanked us!

Wanda called us back to tell us she contacted Carl, who rents the cabins and lives in the park, and asked him to go down to the beach and make sure they were able to get the car started. She was going to have him put them up in a cabin for the night if they couldn’t leave the park. We thought sleeping in the car would have been fine, but Wanda is a very nice person.

We found out yesterday that the locksmith was able to make them a key, so they were able to leave. And he only charged them $75, probably because that’s all they could scrape together. Carl said the girl pulled out a wad of ones and fives, her tips from her job as a dancer.  So that’s why she had all that navel jewelry and strategically placed tattoos!

It’s so much fun being a camp host!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Not Such a Bad Weekend



Although we were really busy checking everyone in Friday evening, most of our campers were well behaved and surprisingly quiet. Almost everyone had boats so they spent a lot of their time on the water.


Only had a few issues with people putting up too many tents and parking too many vehicles at their sites, but we let the rangers deal with that.

We did have a group of rednecks in a beat up SUV come in Friday afternoon with no reservations, wanting a site until the 4th. No problem, we had several first come sites open. They dumped all their stuff on the picnic table and left an old guy sitting there all day. He never put up a tent and didn’t even have a chair to sit in. Finally about 9pm the group came back in a different vehicle (their other one broke down). While I was registering the site next to theirs, one of the guys came over to ask Jim if we had a radio they could use. Uh, no way, but Jim was nice enough to call the camp store and see if they happened to sell one. Luckily they don’t. They said they just wanted anything that would make some noise! The next morning they left the old guy again and went to Cape Girardeau to see if they could borrow a vehicle. Sometime in the early afternoon they came back, packed up all their stuff and left, after paying for 3 nights. It was a strange bunch, so we weren’t sorry to see them go. We then got the pleasure of cleaning up their fire pit, which they filled with trash, including a tent, pizza boxes, a couple dozen beer cans, and an entire untouched, melted sheet cake.

Here is another way to get AC into your tent. Guess they just patch the hole with the cardboard.


The only other incident we had was actually a problem with a group in the other campground. The hosts had spoken with them about some parking and scooter riding issues. At the change of shifts, the day ranger radioed the night ranger to tell him to keep an eye on them.

At that time, Jim and I were being the super helpful camp hosts and pumping up air mattresses for a young couple whose grandparents dropped them off for the weekend. The had no pump, so we took their air mattresses to the store to borrow a pump. We left our radio in the golf cart, and just as the rangers were talking, one of the scooter women pulled up beside our cart and heard the entire conversation. She was very mad when she walked into the store and was going on and on about how they had been harassed since they arrived.

Just coincidentally, the day ranger was walking into the store for a snack, so we warned her about what happened. She spent a long time trying to calm her down, and finally told her both she and the night ranger would be down to their site to discuss the issue. They must have spent an hour talking to them, way too much time spent over nothing. So we all need to be careful about keeping our radios turned down if there are people around. Jim’s solution was if they weren’t happy with the rules here, they should just pack up and go home. Such a diplomat!

The fireworks near Wappapello Dam took place on Saturday night. Lots of people went out on boats, and it was a pretty but hot evening. We ended up helping out with traffic control at the gate to the day use area, where the fireworks were semi visible.


This is the area by the “Party Tree” where all the boaters meet up and hang out. The little tree on a small island is behind the third boat from the left.


The boys aren’t crazy about the AC running all the time. They’ve been sleeping under the covers or looking for a nice comfy spot in the sun.


We have a leaky water spigot, so the squirrels take advantage of it to get a much needed drink. Beats having to walk all the way down to the lake!


Only three and a half weeks to go and Jim still has a couple RV projects to work on so it should go fast. He would be so much happier if he didn’t have to spend so much time scratching his bug bites!