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Issue #182, Epic Road Trip, June 4, 2018: Alley Springs Campground, Missouri

June 4, 2018. Alley Springs campground, Missouri - a close, quiet fog is descending over the RV loop as I write. We arrived here yesterday evening about 7:30 PM. Paige was driving and kept making incorrect turns, according to the map app.

We are now cross-checking our directions with the paper map, which is helpful. Even though the level of detail on paper is not as detailed as an app, it’s still helpful to have several sources of information, so as to avoid, for example, the same mistake we made last summer, when we found ourselves over a hundred miles from Great Basin National Park after relying solely on Google and Apple Maps.

Alley Springs Campground is set next to the Jack Fork river in the Ozark Scenic National Riverway. Reaching the campground after our long drive, we finally figured out where our loop was: easy to spot, with electric and water hook-ups, by lots of other RVs.

Right when we arrived, we learned that all the bathrooms in the entire camp ground were closed due to a break in their water main.

Still, with some pressure remaining in the line, we were able to fill the Cricket’s reserve tank and collect enough water for dinner and dishes. (Orion lept into action, immediately surmising the situation, and telling us what we needed to do, which was to fill the storage tank with the trickle of water still coming out of the hose).

Paige made dinner, a kale-chicken-apple salad, and started immediately drinking a margarita, exulting in the reality that no tents needed to be put up. Our mood was happy. The kids rode around the loop with others, many of whom had brightly-lit bicycles.

Our neighbors played soft country music and lounged about their diverse RV shelters, many of which were adorned with colorful LED lights. One guy projected lights into a tree, mimicking fireflies. Real fireflies also started twinkling on and off, just as dusk was settling in.

Last night I slept much better than the previous night. In my dreams I was singing and playing piano, and having good, friendly connections with people.

A bit later: 8:14 AM. I just returned from sketching the Alley Springs Mill, a giant red building next to the Jack Fork river, built in the 1890s. Power harnessed by the river was used in the building by a multi-stage process for milling wheat, and there was also an old sawmill connected to the mill, all only a short bike ride away from our camp.

I was the only person there for awhile, observing and sketching as the water - a cool blue green - swirled past the red building. As I sketched, the morning fog lifted over the mill and the deciduous trees blanketing the hillside. According to the sign, this spot has been visited since prehistoric times.

Once I had finished my sketch and Paige and the kids had biked over to the mill to join me, we spent the morning exploring; we hung out inside the mill, checking out the milling and sifting machines, saw a number of photos depicting life in a community with a working mill, looked at the old schoolhouse, and got an obligatory magnet at the gift shop. I talked to a friendly young ranger inside the mill, a chap named Adam, who and told us how much he liked going to Colorado to hunt, once he found out that was were we were from.

Apparently, the once-lush and prodigious forests in this part of Missouri were heavily cut by the early settlers, though you couldn’t tell now.

Amish on buggies
Pass Apocalyptic Church
Horse scared of Cricket

Alley Springs ranger
Talks to us about hunting
In Colorado

Caffeine molecule
Displaces monotony
Of long sleepy road

Despite the coffee
My eyes still heavy-lidded
Five miles from Springfield

Many shades of green
Emanate from the palette
That is Missouri

Burly park ranger
Delicately entreating
Card reader to work

Cricket and Volvo
Needing frequent infusions
Of petroleum

solo/group kukai
jonathan machen