First Down Day

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April 28th 2018
Published: April 28th 2018
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The Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers
Pikes Peak State Park, MacGregor, IA

After a full week of driving and sight-seeing, we finally got a down day. A ‘down day’, or what I sometimes call ‘a day off’, is exactly like it sounds - a day we don’t have anything planned. It is one of those days where I ask Joan ‘ so what do you want to do today?’ And she replies ‘I don’t know. What do you want to do?’ Then, of course, me being male, I respond ‘ I asked you first?’. And, well you know how that goes.

Although we don’t do much on down days, there is one ‘task’ that seems to always make it - an afternoon nap! We managed one of those yesterday - first one of the trip - and it was delicious. And we cooked a dinner - another first one for the trip. Joan had pre-cooked several racks of ribs, so all we really had to do was defrost, heat, and slather with homemade BBQ sauce. Had some corn on the cob too (although it was not local - something I would really like to try.)

And we took a hike through the park. It

MisterParks and his Girls
really is a gorgeous park and hiking through the forests and ravines is a lot of fun. The views of the river are just stunning from up here on the tallest point along the Mississippi River. As some of the pictures show, the Wisconsin River empties into the Mississippi right across the river from here. Watching the riverboat and railroad traffic around is just kind of thrilling - this truly is a mighty river. And we certainly don’t have anything to match it back in New Mexico.

We took the girls with us and they had a blast. Smooch found a mucky spot and proceeded to roll in it. I call her my beauty queen turned mud wrestler. So we had to hose her down when we got back. Generally the two of them just lay in the back seat while we are driving, and never say a word. They get out to do some business when we break for lunch, but otherwise we hardly know they are there. They are both excellent travelers. So when they get a chance to hit the trail, they are especially happy, and we are more than willing to accommodate them. Besides, other tourists and even park locals go nuts when they see two corgis. - everybody has to pet them.

The hike took us down into a ravine where there was a rather insipid water fall, but then at the top of Hickory ridge on the other side we found a series of earthen mounds. There was no sign explaining them, but I’m thinking they are part of the Native American legacy that we came up here to see (probably tomorrow).

One ‘chore’ we had to do on our down day was move camp. It turned out that we thought our campsite was number 30, but, in fact, we had been assigned number 5. After getting half-set-up in the wrong spot, I contacted the Camp host and he let us stay there. But someone else was coming in yesterday for spot number 30, so we had to move. Moving a trailer involves a fair number of tasks and isn’t a whole lot of fun, but we got it done, emptied the sewer tanks and filled up with water while mobile. But the good thing is our new spot actually has a better view of the river.

Now, if the

Smooch and Fleur Ready to Go
wind would stop blowing, maybe we could sit outside and enjoy it! Weather has been on the chilly side. Mornings have been sunny and beautiful, but the wind comes up in the afternoon - sometimes uncomfortably so.

Finally managed to take a shower. Yeah, you probably didn’t want to hear that. But its the truth and showers are big deals for me. Joan can fit in the shower in the trailer, but I’m just too big. So we plan our stays partially around the campgrounds that have showers available. When we arrived here, though, the water system was still being disinfected and there was no running water available. But the inspection came through yesterday afternoon - everything was good, so they turned the water on for the season. And I got to take a shower! Much needed.

Finished my book on the prairie ecology and management. Can’t say I’m going to use a whole lot of the information on managing a prairie. But I did find it interesting that prairies require a certain amount of ‘defoliation’ in order to be healthy. In times past, that balancing was done by natural prairie wildfires and by grazing of millions of bison. We killed off the bison, of course, and then generally replaced the prairie grasses with wheat and corn. But in those little pockets where land managers are trying to restore prairie lands, one of the requirements to reintroduce a herd of bison. If that’s not possible, then cattle will do, but apparently bison do better jobs! Who knew?

Today is sort of going to be another down-day, although less restful, and more full of chores. I’m headed back to Dubuque this morning to buy four tires for the LandCruiser (ugh! And Ouch!). Then, this afternoon Joan and I will head into MacGregor for some supplies. Maybe more of a maintenance day than a down-day.

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From the Observation Tower

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