50th Anniversary Cape(town) to Cairo Caravan and Rally Recon
As you all know, I am hosting the 50th Anniversary Cape(town) to Cairo Airforums gathering this September. This event will start with a short caravan from Cape Girardeau, MO to Cairo, IL and back. We will be camping in Cape once we finish the 68 mile round trip.
Today, I decided to travel to Cape Girardeau to do a few meet and greets with the RV park, chamber of commerce, parks department, and prospective caterers.
The day started out rough. It was pouring in the St. Louis rush hour traffic around 8:30 AM. What normally takes me 20 minutes took double with people acting like they had never seen rain before.
The fun wouldn't end so quickly though, as almost the entire trip to Cape would be a nasty downpour preventing me from attaining the 70 MPH I desperately wanted to go. Several cars were less fortunate and ended up in the median or a ditch.
About 20 miles from Cape, I lucked out. The front was clearing out, and I would be able to drive the rest of the way on relatively dry pavement. I took this picture as I came to the end of the weather system.
As what happens a great deal of the time, luck runs dry...pun intended. The heavens opens and poured down a hard rain as I entered Cape Girardeau. Fortunately for me, the RV Park was less than two miles from the exit.
The RV park is actually located in Cape Girardeau, and not on the outskirts. The workers told me that it was originally a driving range that went under. I am not going to lie, the park is pretty tight. A love thy neighbor type establishment. Due to the large amount of construction in the Cape Girardeau area, the park was packed with full timing construction workers. I was told that a group of pipeline workers was set to leave the first week of September. Due to this being the only park in Cape Girardeau, it is always busy according to staff. There are a few sites that offer water and electric only and are listed as tent sites. They are $20 per night if the park runs out of full hook-up sites.
Park overview from office
Paved main drives
The only Airstream in the park
The park has a nice pool that may still be open during the rally, a small general store, mini golf for the kids, laundry, and restroom facilities. Since there is another rally being held the same weekend as ours, we are unable to use the RV park's recreational center. Our Friday night happy hour and pot luck will be held pond side at the site below. I am asking all of you who have small 10x10 pop up tents or gazebos to bring them. We can move some picnic tables over, and use the fire ring. The owner said we can bring a generator and string lights if we desire. This will give us more room and less congestion than the main camping area. Any musicians among us?
Private pond that is catch and eat. No license required.
Nice level site for Friday evening
After I finished at the RV park the rain started to lighten up. I made my way to Kiwanis park where we have a pavilion reserved for the Saturday evening meal. This was the largest pavilion in Cape Girardeau that I could secure before the rally since other events are being held that weekend.
Kiwanis park is only 2.5 miles from the Cape RV Park and is very easy to get to. The pavilion has four grills and eight picnic tables. With each table seating eight, we should have more than enough room for people and food. There is 110 electric at the pavilion to plug in an amplifier for Pee Wee, and projector if I can secure some slides of the original trip.
For anyone other than us who is bringing kids, there is a huge playground right next to the pavilion that will be a nice distraction for them.
After visiting the park, I had a 1:30 appointment with the Visitor's center that is run by the chamber of commerce. The point was to travel around Cape and find a suitable departure point for the caravan, photograph the bridge lanes, and the main route we will take one in Illinois. I met with Chuck, and we quickly got underway. At first Chuck took me to a few places up river from the bridge so I could get some photos. The bridge is a newly constructed (2004) suspension bridge that took better than a decade to complete.
View from old bridge memorial
Upriver view 1
Upriver view 2
View from downtown Cape Girardeau.
After getting a view, I wanted to get some pictures of the traffic lanes. The bridge is four lanes with two lanes going in each direction. The lanes are generous, and should be no problem for wide body trailers. There is a full shoulder on the bridge in the event of an emergency stop. The pictures below show the east bound lanes into Illinois. The westbound return lanes are identical.
Passing into Illinois
After exiting the bridge we will have a short journey until we reach IL-Route 3. Below are pictures of what our entire route should look like. A two lane road with partial paved shoulder. There is enough of a flat grass space that does extended past the paved area in the event we need to stop.
IL-Route 3 to Cairo
Chuck drove me down to Thebes, IL which is about five miles down IL-route 3. At Thebes there was a historical marker for the Great River Road, and oddly enough...two Airstreams. We turned around and headed back to Cape.
The last order of business Chuck and I had was to find a departure point for the caravan. This point will also serve as a staging point for anyone who arrives late on the day prior. I explained what we needed was a large parking lot, preferably paved, with an easy route to the bridge. Not that I intend on using several puns, but Chuck hit a home run.
Allow me to present the Shawnee Athletic Complex in Cape Girardeau. This complex houses five
baseball diamonds surrounded by a parking lot. The parking lot makes a full 180 so entering and exiting won't be an issue. There are also public restroom facilities and fresh water that anyone boon docking overnight can utilize. There will be no games in session at the time of the caravan, so privacy should be easy.
Panoramic pic of lot
Not only is the location perfect for staging a caravan, it is extremely close to the bridge. Chuck plans on talking to the city police, and will ask them to block the few intersections off between the park and bridge so we don't lose anyone in traffic due to stop lights. While not entirely a necessity, it would be very convenient to have.
Chuck is going to speak with the Parks and Recreation department to ensure everything runs smoothly with getting Shawnee reserved for us. He also plans to contact the local television, radio stations, and news paper. I hope to see a great amount of press for Airstream and the remembrance of the original caravan.
Before I left town, I stopped in at one of the restaurants I was speaking to about catering. The owners were very nice, and their restaurant was very classy. I feel that they are completely capable to making our Saturday evening meal, but their price is past where our rally fees have been set, and that wouldn't be including other things that need to be taken care of. I am still waiting to hear from a few other places though, and have not ruled anything out completely
It was a long and exhausting day, but it is over now. Hope you all have a better understanding of our September event, and are looking forward to it as much as I am.