An Eclipsed Trip

Scott and I were able to go on a four-day road trip to see the total eclipse recently.  We traveled into Kansas and found it to be more than fields of corn.  I had no clue there were so many rolling hills and beautiful places here; we have been to the Witchita area and found it to be prairies and F-L-A-T.  However, as we drove up I-69, this was not the Kansas we experienced before.

While we drove our way up to the Kansas City, Kansas, area to visit our friend Amy and view the eclipse, Scott and I visited two new Kansas State Parks, Elk City State Park and Eisenhower State Park.  These would be the first two parks for this state for us and we were not disappointed at all.

Elk City State Park was beautiful.  As we drove through the park we found amazing oak and hickory trees surrounding the campsites with full hook-ups.  I could actually see the Beast parked in the spots and us hiking along the many trails and enjoying the lake.

If you drive out of the park, you will find a road that will take you to an overlook of the lake.  It goes up, up, up to a stone building and a fantastic view.

The plaque on the building says, “This overlook and its vistas of America are dedicated to the memory of Tulsa District employees and those citizens who have made significant contributions to the mission of the U.S. Army Corps of  Engineers.  Those who are honored, while from many walks of life, were united in their dedication to help build a stronger and better nation.  Today their efforts live on in the memories of their families and co-workers who look to their examples as guideposts for the future.”

I just fell in love with the view and the fact that it had a connection with Tulsa, a place that has deep roots in our lives.  It has made this place special for us and I look forward to spending more time.  It always amazes me how we seem to find some type of connection with the parks we visit. Here it was an outlook.

Yes, you see that right, we went to Kansas and visited Eisenhower State Park.  But wait, didn’t we just leave Eisenhower State Park where I park hosted?  Yes, but that was in Texas on Lake Texoma. These two parks are totally different, but both are fantastic to visit.  We were able to stop and chat with some of this park’s Park Hosts and they had some very funny stories, like most hosts do.  In my experience at the Texas Eisenhower, we would have many calls for the Kansas park; turns out they had many calls for the Texas park too.  The host we spoke with at the Park Store said she had a man come in for his reservation, but there was nothing there for him because he had made it for the Texas park.  I know it has happened at the park in Texas because I came across it happening.  It can be frustrating, but it has taught me to be a bit more careful when making our reservations.

Photo from Eisenhower State Park website.

The Kansas’ Eisenhower is a good example of the rolling plains you will find in the state.  There are not as many trees as Elk City State Park, where we visited earlier that morning, but you will find plenty of trees within each of the campsites and the normal full hook-ups.  Both of us liked the feel of the park and how they provided plenty of opportunities for shade and beating the summer heat.  The shade covers were unique and fun.  We eventually drove the full park and found ourselves ready to head towards Kansas City to spend time with our friend Amy.

Sunday morning the three of us were up and ready to hit a Missouri State Park named Weston Bend State Park just across the Missouri River from Leavenworth, Kansas.  It was our first park in the state of Missouri and it was perfect.  The park system, as you can see from the above photo, is celebrating their 100 year anniversary, which thrills us because we get to celebrate along with them.  The day was perfect for this visit and we were able to take a nice hike along one of the more difficult trails Scott and I have taken.

We took a mixture of the Harpst, Northridge, and Paved Bike Trails. I found myself wondering if we were crazy to take this mixture, but I really had an amazing time.  Our friend Amy is an avid hiker and is in excellent shape so knowing that I was able to keep up with her on her slower pace made me feel as if I was a bit accomplished.  I have not been able to do much hiking since we moved back up to Tulsa from Eisenhower (the Texas one) so I was needing to grab my outdoorphines.

One of the things Scott and I are trying to do is get out of the house and do new things.  Doing this we have found ourselves meeting new, interesting people; tasting unique, cultural foods; and visiting fun, out-of-our-way places.  We have, in this process, discovered so many things about ourselves as individuals and a couple.  Myself, I never thought I would be doing the things we do because I was never one to enjoy the outdoors, but I am riding a bike, hiking trails, and going to new places.  The one thing I have learned from all this is that we can’t lock ourselves away and expect experiences to come to us, we have to step out of our comfort zone and just try.

On Monday we were on a mission, we had a full eclipse to observe.  In order to see the full eclipse though w had to find the right place.  Scott and Amy had decided to look at White Cloud, Kansas, for the viewing.  To get there we opted to take the Glacial Hills Scenic Drive and it did not disappoint.

 

It was almost surreal to think about the glacier that traveled across these hills leaving the large stone deposits to create the rolling hills we drove past filled with green fields of corn and soybeans.  As we came closer and closer to our destination, you could see people lining up along edges of fields preparing for the eclipse. This was a once in a lifetime chance and it seemed as if everyone was showing up to experience it.

An hour and a half after leaving Amy’s house, we arrived in White Cloud and the end (or beginning) of the Glacier Hills Scenic Drive.  Here we found a marker for the for the Lewis & Clark Trail and information about the drive.  Unfortunetly, the sky was overcast and Scott and Amy decided to go further north into Nebraska.

We still had time to get ourselves up to our eclipse viewing destination Indian Cave State Park, we just had to get moving because the bridge to take us directly there was being worked on and we had to take a detour.

Within forty-five minutes we arrived at Indian Cave State Park in the pouring rain.  It was raining so hard we were not able to stop for an entry photo.  It was not looking good for the eclipse, but we were at our first Nebraska State Park and it was beautiful even in the rain.  Fortunately for us, the rain stopped within the first twenty minutes of our arrival.  Driving through the park to visit the cave where you could view prehistoric Native American petroglyphs.  It was a little difficult to view them because of the many decades of people scratching their names in the same rocks, but you can find the petroglyphs if you look.  It caused us to question what the tribe’s elders thought of the petroglyphs and how much trouble the “artists” got in to from their graffiti.

Finishing our viewing of the cave, we looked for a good spot to view the full eclipse.  The sky was overcast and it was too late for us to find another location to do the viewing, so we were now committed to this location.  From the shore of the Missouri River, Scott and I set ourselves ready for the on-coming eclipse with our special NASA approved glasses while our friend Amy decided to climb the trail at Trailhead 11 and enjoy a run during the eclipse.

As the moon began it’s path across the sun, Scott took photos and I pouted because the viewing was awful.  We were able to see the beginning stages on the sun, but because of the overcast sky we were not able to view the full eclipse.  However, we did experience the darkness and the 360 degree twilight.  I actually saw some fireflies in the middle of the day and that was pretty cool.  There will be another total eclipse traveling across the United States in 2024 and that gives us another opportunity.

Just as suddenly as the excitement began, people started packing up and leaving.  Having been lucky enough to not come across lots of traffic while we were enroute, we were going to pay our dues on the way out.  What should have been a twenty-minute drive took us an hour and a half!

Even though we were not able to view the eclipse, we were able to come closer to our State Park Goal by four new State Parks, visit a new state, and, most importantly, spent some amazing time with our good friend Amy.  It was such a fantastic trip and I can’t wait to go back to the Kansas City area and see what else we can find.

 

 

 

 

So Now What? Just Wait…

As you now know, Scott and I are living in Oklahoma.  He was able to transfer with his job so he lost no vacation or sick time and his pay stayed pretty much the same even though he received a small bit of a pay raise (Texas doesn’t have income tax where Oklahoma does – blah).  I am not taking on a park hosting position for a while so we can focus on getting situated and working on the RV.  One thing for sure, the website and videos will be reworked and rethought.  We are finding our way around to what we want more for us and you all.

One of the things we are trying to think about is how we want the website to help us achieve our goals of helping benefit you while still telling about our adventures.  This means we have to figure out how we are benefiting you as a viewer, guest, friend.  Needless to say, we are at a bit of a crossroads.  We aren’t sure what we are doing is providing anything for you except keeping everyone updated.  It has taken us a while to admit this, but there it is.

This is an ugly realization for us and it was difficult to admit.  Who wants to do something that is not useful?  That is why we are taking a bit of a break.  Our life just exploded over the past month and we came face to face with some major issues:  debt, death, disappointment, and so much more.  We both decided what we were doing was not working and life felt out of control.  This was not a bad thing because we can see the good coming out of it all.  That is why we aren’t giving up the website or videos.  Just re-evaluating everything to figure out what we want to do and see if we want to pull you all along through the mess.

This next three to six weeks will be the time we make some major decisions.  At the moment we are staying with family, not in the Beast because there are no hookups and this is Oklahoma.  Oklahoma is pretty unforgiving in August concerning heat and no air conditioning.  This, however, is very temporary because the plan is to move out of the Beast completely for about six months while we strip her completely down and fix her up; this is the outside, inside and engine.  We will be staying in Scott’s brother’s fifth wheel during that time, but they are in the process of buying a house so it is all in a state of chaos at the moment.  But isn’t that the way with chaos, it is temporary.

So, we wait.  While we wait, we focus on the things we can work on now.  For Scott, it is getting adjusted to the new job while I take the time to work on the website and video channel.

Until later,
Ren

We Screwed Up – We Need A Do Over!

We have been working toward a goal, to have a better life through experiences and relationships. We have both felt this was going to come from downsizing and living fulltime in an RV while traveling and volunteering with the many different state and national parks across the nation. Unfortunately, because we jumped way before we were ready we are having a few issues. These issues and some family emergencies have caused us to decide it is time for a redesign… We are calling for a mulligan.