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Old 05-11-2008, 11:10 AM   #1
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Mid-America 'thoughts'

Just a quick post of random thoughts about a week in the Caravel. Each leg of the trip is a different color on the map.

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First night was at Prairie Dog State Park in Kansas. Very nice RV hookups (power and water, but you could only dump on exit) and a big lake. $18

Second night(s) was at the Offutt AFB FamCamp. For all you military and military retirees, it is excellent and the staff is very helpful. $15 or $16

Third stop was a mouthfull--Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park on Rend Lake (south of intersection of I-57 and I-64) in Illinois. Huge Lake, nicely cleared RV area, lots of turkeys. Camp hosts close at 8 PM and other campers said they don't open until noon-ish. No self-registration kiosk, either. Our stop was brief, didn't hook up, but I think each site had only water and power, no dump.

Then after some great days at a friend's in Tennessee, we're off again. This stop was at the BoomTown RV park on I-55 in Missouri, convenient and all the amenities for only $12.

The next stop, Ft Dodge Kansas, was the most interesting. A small state facility for veterans, very quaint and several things to see, including Custer's house. You only need to be a veteran to stay there. If you arrive late, the roving security guard will find the key to the power boxes and water (and there's a dump at each site). Only three sites--$10.

Getting back to Colorado was a grind. We didn't hit any of the real severe weather, but the high winds limited speed to 50-55 and ate up fuel. I was surprised that I didn't see any semi trucks blown over.

One objective on the road back from Tenn was to get on the back roads and off the interstate (to look for orphan Airstreams, what else?). What a surprise--more than half of US-60, as well as the rest of the route back, was either 4-lane divided or two lanes that looked like one side of an interstate, but not much traffic. Seems like way too much highway for the traffic. What's going on?

In Kentucky there was an unbelievable expanse of woods, few people or towns, and sometimes 15 miles between exits--what a surprise! Beautiful, but wholely unexpected. My one question from Kentucky was "how do the gas stations get away with not posting their prices?" If they were posted, they were often obscured. Very irritating. Noticeably different than any other state I've been in.

As for Airstreams, we saw only four. One in Kentucky, two parked together at one house in Missouri, and one in Kansas. Granted, the woods kept visibility to a minimum, but I was still shocked at how few there were.

Greensburg, Kansas. What can be said? We came upon this devastation at dusk and suddenly realized that the entire town was destroyed. Not just a narrow tornado strip, but the whole town. The trees were the first indication--huge trunks with no branches, yet many small sprouting twigs. Suddenly you realize that you're not at the single stoplight in a two gas station pit stop, but that you're sitting in the middle of what was once a small city. Taking a few minutes to get off the highway and drive a few of the side streets only increases the impact. The debris and foundations have all been removed and some rebuilding is taking place. All I can say is that what you see is breathtaking and thought provoking. It was too dark for photos, but here's one from the web...

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Happier travels, Zep
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Old 05-11-2008, 12:36 PM   #2
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Too bad about the tornado damage. So many lives turned upside-down.

Fuel prices in Calif legally have to be posted.

I note the low prices of your camping spots. Is that the norm in the mid-west, or just the types of places you stayed - ie, military?
Not in California....
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Old 05-11-2008, 01:48 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fyrzowt
Too bad about the tornado damage. So many lives turned upside-down.

Fuel prices in Calif legally have to be posted.

I note the low prices of your camping spots. Is that the norm in the mid-west, or just the types of places you stayed - ie, military?
Not in California....
I think fuel prices have to be posted in all states, but the Coon Skin Cap crowd is just too independent to pay heed.

Prices probably reflect military installations, but the state parks and the BoomTown RV park were clearly in the same ballpark. About the only price in California I've seen that rivals these is in Boron.... I only saw a few other RV park prices advertised, which were mostly mid-$20s.

Zep
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Old 05-11-2008, 02:07 PM   #4
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hi zep...

it's been a year since the greenburg wind.

the only building that remained after than night was a tavern...

bush gave the hs graduation speech last weekend.

i've spent a good deal of time in that area and other rural plains towns.

the dozen or so seniors who graduated are considered the link from old town, 2 no town, 2 a new town....

much of the efforts this last year were focused on keeping their schooling on schedule.

schools, churches and hospitals are what really keep these rural towns alive.

in the days after the wind blew, the tavern served all 3 functions.

greensburg USED to be known for having the 'world largest hand-dug well' ....

The World's Largest Hand-Dug Well - Greensburg, KS

and the many meteorite finds, including the 1000 lb pallasite rock on display and a new find 2 years ago...

Unusual meteorite found in Kansas - CNN.com

now they are building a new town entirely based on eco friendly principles.

Greensburg, Kansas: Extraordinary Transformation : TreeHugger

the loss was impressive, but the effort to rebuild and renew are even more so....

kansas is named for the kansa tribe, also called the kaw.

the english translation is 'people of the south winds'...

Kansas Indian Tribes and Languages

and while many other tribes also occupied this area, the 'southwinds' description fits best and can be felt everyday.

the folks who are rebuilding and remain in greensburg, really are in/of the kansa spirit....

did you see or pass through the flint hills?

following the old santa fe trail route is more interesting (imo than route 66) and historic.

cheers
2air'
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Old 05-11-2008, 03:15 PM   #5
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Wow Zep, thanks for sharing the picture and info on Greensburg. Having never experienced anything like that it is hard for someone like myself to relate. Driving through it like you did, late in the day, must have been extremely eerie. I was raised in an area where high winds are the norm but never anything like a tornado.

2air', thanks for the additional information. It is that spirit of picking back up, dusting oneself off, looking to how to make things better and then going right back at doing it that is a real inspiration. Not a lot of hoopla, just dig back in and make it all work again. It will be neat to see how this plays out in a couple of years.

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Old 05-11-2008, 03:44 PM   #6
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For future reference, what was the name of the park in Ft Dodge? Can't find it on the Kansas State Parks website.

Thanks,

mike
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Old 05-11-2008, 05:52 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by n2916s
...Can't find it on the Kansas State Parks website..mike
hi mike

that's because it isn't a ks state park.

apparently it is just a few slots here...

Fort Dodge - Kansas Soldiers' Home

i was un-aware of the rv hookups there, zep is flying under the radar.

but MANY tiny ks towns have a city park with 3-5 slots that are free, or donation or "pay at the feed store" variety...

the ONLY official military rv campground i am aware of in ks is at mc connell afb in wichita...

here is the 411 on the space at the af base...

... mc connell Afb fam/camp....

custer never lived in the house at ft dodge, but the old soldiers' home is real.

the early days of fort dodge...

IF u r interested on pre civil war and frontier military outposts, ks has plenty....

including the oldest continuously operating u.s. army fort west of the river.

Kansas Frontier Forts
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Old 05-11-2008, 07:11 PM   #8
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Thanks for the quick come back. Always on the look out for the unusual and this certainly qualifies.

Last year we managed to get in almost almost 4 weeks (out of 6 months on the road) in military rv parks (I'm retired Coast Guard). Inexpensive and usually in really good shape. Hopefully will get to check out McConnell AFB on our next sojourn.

Thanks Again,

mike
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Old 05-11-2008, 07:53 PM   #9
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zep, thanks for the report, i read it with great interest.
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Old 05-11-2008, 08:08 PM   #10
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Hi Zep, thanks for sharing....you blew past my hometown on your 3rd day going from Nebraska to Illinois......(Oak Grove, MO which is about 25 miles east of KC). The town is now a truck stop on I 70 and with the building of Walmart, most of the mom & pop stores are gone.....you may have even stopped there for gas.....my family settled there in the early 1800's....and I still have family there.....

Bill was glad to get the brake parts.....paula
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Old 05-11-2008, 11:02 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteSpot
...you blew past my hometown on your 3rd day going from Nebraska to Illinois......(Oak Grove, MO which is about 25 miles east of KC). ...you may have even stopped there for gas..
Paula, through the magic of GPS and Google maps, I can say that it probably would have been nice to stop there, but in fact I never got off the interstate. You can see the green GPS track right down the highway. If I had gotten off, you would be able to see which parking spot at WalMart I parked in (different map, of course).

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I use maps like these as moving maps that pinpoint my position while I'm driving, so I never have to fold a paper map. Just a quick glance and I know where I am. The software is OziExplorer and a lifetime license is under $100. You make your own maps or download many state highway maps from the web.

This detail of the state park at Rend Lake shows you that I went into the park and all the way to the end thinking that "primative" meant no hookups, then back to the RV area to look for the camp hosts, tried one, then the other, and finally gave up and just camped.

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I find these track logs useful when I'm boondocking in the west and I have forgotten that special spot--just dig out the track plot and I know right where to go.

Thanks for helping with the disk brake delivery!

Zep
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Old 05-12-2008, 11:24 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeppelinium
Greensburg, Kansas. What can be said? We came upon this devastation at dusk and suddenly realized that the entire town was destroyed. Not just a narrow tornado strip, but the whole town. The trees were the first indication--huge trunks with no branches, yet many small sprouting twigs. Suddenly you realize that you're not at the single stoplight in a two gas station pit stop, but that you're sitting in the middle of what was once a small city. Taking a few minutes to get off the highway and drive a few of the side streets only increases the impact. The debris and foundations have all been removed and some rebuilding is taking place. All I can say is that what you see is breathtaking and thought provoking. It was too dark for photos, but here's one from the web...

I can COMPLETELY relate with this experience. I did nearly the exact same thing about a month ago upon returning from Arkansas and the Branson rally, I drove straight thru from Springfield, MO on the exact same track as you. It got dark a little outside of Greensburg and I was getting tired and ready to seek a city park to camp in for the night. I was talking with my wife on the cell phone as my GPS was directing me towards a State park on the western edge of Greensburg. I turned right off of the main road and headed north only to be visually assaulted by old snapped trees that obviously suffered catastrophic wind damage as well as rubble piles everywhere, but no houses. It was so dark, I could only see to the edges of my headlights, but the scene was so ghastly I quickly turned around where I could, but not after tracking four or five block into the 'neighborhood'. My wife quickly became concerned by my visual descriptions as I passed thru this area, and I had her look up Greensburg as I drove on. I had completely forgotten about the EF5 twister that had come thru here. It was a truly sad experience. In fact on my trip, I passed thru no fewer than four damaging tornado paths in Arkansas, including Clinton in Feb 08, Greensburg, KS and Holly, CO.

I'm glad the rest of the trip was good. Great write up!
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