09/26/12 – Wednesday
Well, I did have one leak this morning, discovered at 4:30 am when the thunder woke me up. It’s the missing microwave rivet again, the gray putty that the previous owner had put around the screw on the top cracked to the point where water could get underneath it. At least it was an easy fix and first thing in the morning it got taken care of. While there was a good chance for rain again today it held off until I left the park around 2, that makes getting everything put away and ready to roll again so much easier.
Since I plan on staying at Roaring River over the weekend, I decide to make a reservation. I’d hate to have a repeat of Big Sioux where the entire park booked up. The fellow I talk to on the phone has a very difficult time looking me up in the system, apparently the guy who put all of my information in at Harry Truman did something wrong, but I don’t mind waiting, it’s not like there’s somewhere I need to be.
I arrive in Springfield, MO in the afternoon and decide it’s as good a place as any to stop. My phone’s GPS tells me there is a library near the Walmart where I plan to spend the night so I head on over to check it out.
I’ve never seen a library like it before. There’s a gift shop near the entrance, a hallway with displays for various upcoming events on one side and public conference and meeting rooms on the other side. Near the actually library entrance itself is a cafe and coffee joint, and there is a whole room dedicated to magazines and newspapers that has a lot of comfy chairs with outlets nearby for people with laptops. Very cool, I highly recommend it.
09/27/12 – Thursday
Once again I am woken in the wee hours of the morning by a thunderstorm, but hey, no leaks this time! Otherwise my stay at Walmart is uneventful. I do a bit of grocery shopping and go back to the library for a while, then it’s off to Roaring River.
This is probably my first true ‘back road’ experience with the Casita – I’ve been traveling on Interstates and big highways when possible, but south of Springfield it’s all smaller 2 lane roads. Very curvy ones.
I drive up and around into wooded hills, then glide back down into pastures where cattle – mostly raised for beef in this area – graze. The towns I pass through are small and quaint, and quickly gone. Missouri is also prettier than I expected, and a few maples along the way are already hinting at fall color. I can’t stop grinning, it’s been a long couple years getting ready for this, and now I’m reaping the fruits of my labors.
Getting into the park takes me by surprise. Just before I enter there is a sign clearly posted: ‘Trucks use lower gear’ which I unwisely ignore. I look all around me, I don’t see any hills and nothing up to this point has been a steep grade at all, it can’t be that bad, right?
That was pretty foolish of me. By the bottom, there’s a bit of smoke coming out from around my front wheels and an faint but unpleasant smell. I stop at the first pull-over I find and get out to inspect the damage. The smoke stops quickly. I carefully put my hand on all the tires – truck and trailer. None of them feel unusually hot or appear to be damaged so I’m guessing the smoke was from the brakes. Satisfied that nothing is about to blow up or catch fire, I actually take a look around at where I am.
Roaring River is located in a deep valley. To look at it from the bottom you’d think you were surrounded by small mountains, but really you come off of a plateau down into a much lower elevation, it just looks like mountains. That’s why I didn’t think I’d need to use a lower gear, I hadn’t gone up at all so I didn’t think there would be so much down. I’ve learned my lesson now and hopefully you’ll take my advice and if you see a similar sign, pay attention to it.
The pull off I took quite by chance was for a portion of Roaring River that is set aside for fishing, and while I wait for things to cool off I take a peek. It’s amazingly clear and has a bluish cast. I haven’t seen water this clear in a long time. The pull-off winds along the side of the river (I later learn just how close to the source this area is though, it’s more of a creek than a river here) and fisherman can pay at the park office for a permit to fish for rainbow trout that are stocked along this area.
I gape at the fish which are quite visible in the pristine water for a while before remembering that I still need to check in and get the Casita in my site.
Luckily the function of my brakes doesn’t seem to be diminished. I test them on the way to the campground area, which was actually quite close to where I stopped. Also luckily the site that I reserved for the weekend sight unseen is a good one, with a forested view from my big back window and has a good view of the pseudo-mountains in front.
The rest of the day I spend getting setup and then I take a walk back to the fishing area and snap some more pictures of the river. Just before sundown I make it up to the fish hatchery that produced the trout that go into the river. Right next to that is the source of Roaring River, but pictures of that have to wait as it gets too dark.
9/28/12 – Friday
I’m up before the sun, and hurry to eat breakfast and get ready. I want to get back to the spring that spawns Roaring River before my fellow campers and fisherman all arrive to gawk at it and make taking pictures difficult.
Absolutely gorgeous, and definitely worth some gawking. These pictures still don’t really do it justice, just how high up the limestone cliff face goes and how blue that water is, there’s even a smaller spring above it that sends a trickle of water down that cliff. The pool that you see goes quite a ways back into the side of the hill, there’s a pocket of air trapped under there that forms a cavern, you need to swim through the water to get to it.
That pool is only 3-12 feet wide, but it’s the depth that makes it amazing – 224 feet. No wonder the color is so deep. The spring pushes out just over 20 million gallons of water per day on average and feeds both the river and the rainbow trout hatchery next door. That may sound like a lot of water and it is, but the Ozarks area of Missouri has a lot of springs like this, and this particular one is only the 20th largest in the state.
Once I’m able to tear myself away from the spring it’s time for more hiking, and today I’ve got on the shoes I’m going to be wearing at Amazon to break them in. Today’s project: the Fire tower trail, 3.5 miles up and down the side of the valley. There is indeed a fire tower along the trail, but the trees have grown so much since it was built that it doesn’t offer a view which is sad.
The trail is also not a loop, and it spits me out along the side of a road, leaving me confused about how to get back to Bertha. I could pull out my iPhone and use the GPS to figure out where I am, but it’s still early and there’s no rush, so I just starting walking. I proceed to walk to the edge of the park. Oops, guess I went the wrong way.
I still make it back to the truck before noon, if I had to guess I’d say I did at least 5 miles of walking. My New Balance shoes still feel good and my feet don’t hurt, so I figure that’s a good omen for my upcoming stint at Amazon.
After lunch I plop myself down at my campsite and alternate between reading and and doing stuff on the internet, it’s a hard job but somebody’s got to do it.
* * *
Yet again I’ve got too much to write about so I’ll be doing another post for the second half of my time at Roaring River. For any who are concerned: Bertha’s brakes have continued working normally but now that I’m stationary at Coffeyville for a while I will be taking her in to get them looked at to make sure all is well.
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