As we continued our leisurely trek across Oklahoma toward Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas, we stopped for a few days at Supply Park Campground. We were pleasantly surprised by this beautifully maintained campground with grass lawns and shade trees located on the shore of the 1,800 acre Lake Supply Reservoir. It’s operated by the Army Corps of Engineers and is a great place to spend time boating, fishing and swimming. We saw a steady flow of camper’s come into the park triple-towing a variety of water craft.
The nearby town of Fort Supply was established in 1868 as “Camp of Supply” to provide support for the United States Army’s campaign against the Southern Plains Indians. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, original fort buildings still stand and are open to the public. Today, Fort Supply has a population of around 330 and is the location for a state correctional institute and a state psychiatric center which provides most of the area’s economy.
On the morning of our third day at Supply Park, Grammi received a phone call. “It’s my dad” she said as she picked up the phone. It was sad news. Grammi’s aunt has passed away. It was unexpected…but yet…not a complete surprise. She’d been in a senior care facility since her husband passed away in April.
That morning there were tears. There were quiet moments of reflection. Time seemed to slow down as we waited to hear of the arrangements. The uncertainty surrounding the pandemic still remains. There was no service for Grammi’s uncle when he passed in April. Thankfully we learned there would be a small gathering for the family on Wednesday evening at the funeral home followed by a graveside service later in the week.
We hitched the trailer to our bumper and set a new destination for Minonk, Illinois. We’re going to Grammi’s hometown over 800 mile away. We’ll break the drive up over the next three days and arrive Tuesday afternoon. Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas will have to wait for another time.
The first day we drove for more than six hours to Mound Valley Campground in Kansas. It’s an Army Corps of Engineer campground on Big Hill Lake. We backed into a beautiful site on the lake. I checked to see if we were level. It was close enough. I didn’t unhitch the truck. I didn’t put down the jacks. All I did was plug in the electric, and set up the lawn chairs so we could watch the sunset across the lake.
The next day we again drove for more than six hours to Graham Cave State Park in Missouri. During the drive, grammi and I reacted simultaneously to a large animal on the side of the road. It was a cougar. No question about it. We have never seen a cougar in the wild and it was disturbing to see one lying dead along the road. The poor thing must of recently been struck by a car.
When we arrived at the campground there was no check-in process, just a sign posted saying to proceed to your reserved site. When we got to our site we saw it was not very level. It had a significant front to back downhill slope. Luckily the campground host came by. I explained we were hoping for a level site so we didn’t have to unhitch the camper. She said we could take any open site we wanted. There were only a couple of other campers in the campground so we had no problem finding a suitable site where we didn’t have to unhitch.
We were on the move again the following morning staying on back country roads to avoid the drive through St. Louis. We crossed over the Mississippi River and was quickly reminded how bad the Illinois roads are. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone invented a pothole avoidance system. I would certainly install it on my truck. I damaged an axle on the camper last year and had to have it replaced. I can’t say for sure, but I think it happened here in Illinois.
We arrived at the family farm around 3:00 p.m. Grammi’s cousin Dan was in the field combining beans. It’s harvest time…a busy time for the farmer. Julie was in the farmhouse baking cookies. We parked the camper and finally unhitched. We leveled up and connected to water and electric.
Dinner invitations were already being offered but we stayed in our camper all evening. We were tired after driving the past three days. We just wanted to rest. The next few days will be a whirl-wind of family gatherings. We will sit and reminisce. We will eat. We will celebrate the life of a good person, one who was loved and cherish by everyone. Grammi’s aunt will be missed.
If there is one thought I can share…it is not to take life for granted. We are all here now, at this moment…alive. Seize it. Take control. Open your eyes and see the world. Don’t put off doing the things you want to do. We’re not here forever.
Until next time…happy days and safe travels.