No more cat calling, and no loud neighbors. It was a peaceful night, and morning has arrived. I chose not to take advantage of the showers today. With just a couple days to go, I figured I could wait. I drove over to the Mark Twain National Forest trailhead that I passed yesterday for Hike 33 of the 52 Hike Challenge before turning up to the scary campground, and took a look at the map. This map had seen better days, faded and missing markers, I had no idea where I was on it. Alright, I’ll just start walking.
Now back in the land of clouds, humidity, rain, and mosquitoes meant I was also back in the land of canopies that form a green tunnel and morning spider webs. * This is where I will place my disclaimer. If spiders bother you, you might want to skip down about three paragraphs. * It was clear I was the first to walk this path today. There must have been a web every 5 feet, and not the waste high kind, but the webs that bring you face to face with its engineer. I’d rather deal with a spider before a snake any day of the week, but this was ridiculous. Blogger Girl Gone Hiking knows what I’m talking about. She recently did some backpacking in Indiana and had a very similar experience. At first I thought, “I’ll just wave my arm in front of me.” Then I picked up a stick and started waving it in front of me. I kept this up for a while, discarding my stick at the stream crossing so I could use my free hand to carry my shoes. The other hand had my camera of course.
On the other side of the stream, I was again getting all caught up in them. Just as I was about to give up and turn around I thought to try spinning the stick in large circles. This technique was almost 100% effective. Thank goodness! Unfortunately it results in a stick that looks like this.
When you wind a bunch of webs around a stick, the spiders have to go somewhere. So, creeped out by the crawling spider factor, I would bang my stick on a tree every so often to knock off any stragglers. It seemed to work. I think spiders were the only living creature I passed during my hike. Either that or I was so wrapped up in them that I didn’t notice anything else. Seriously a large predatory animal could have snuck up on me very easily because I was so distracted. Spinning a stick gets tiresome, so I turned around after just over a mile. On my return trip I could be heard yelling things like, “Didn’t I knock you down already?!?!” and “How are you still here?!?!” Yes, I had had enough of the spiders.
Back in the car I drove over to Steelville (remember the floating capitol of Missouri?) to get a cup of coffee. I found a storefront with a coffee sign out, and went in to grab a cup. The owner was making his breakfast on a skillet on his range stove behind the counter. This place felt more like his home than a coffee shop. I paid the owner for a cup of coffee. He handed me a cup, and pointed me in the direction thermos with the one and only flavor of the day. I filled it up, then walked back through the country breakfast nook style shop to the exit. It was adorable, friendly, and had that small town comfort to it. I still have no idea what it was called.
Back on the road, I headed toward St. Louis. I got close, then pulled over at a Starbucks to get my internetting in for the day. I posted on the Art Teacher Facebook group to see if any of them knew of things I should stop and see in St. Louis that would take less than an hour. The responses included the art museum, the arch, a bbq place, and a park that has some great water features. Unfortunately I spent so much time on the internet I ran out of time to visit St. Louis. Hmmm, I guess I have to come back. And I should also devise a way to not have to spend so much time in Starbucks. Nuts! I drove past St. Louis listening to a Zydeco radio station followed by a Blue Grass radio station. Nice! It looks like a cool little city with lots of color. If anyone can tell me about the street art, especially the bees, I’d love to know more.
Next I found myself (for the second time this trip) in Illinois for a short bit, followed by Indiana. Damnit Indiana! What is it with you, crappy roads, and constant construction zones? Get it together. I must have crossed time zones 5 times, forward an hour and back again, until I hit Kentucky and the eastern time zone stuck. I drove past Louisville and Lexington. I listened to a Blues station and started day dreaming about bbq.
I took the exit toward my campground and pulled over for a minute to check Yelp for a local bbq place. Sure enough there was one along my route, Pops, and it had four and a half stars.
As per usual, I put my bag of food in the seat next to me and headed toward the campground. Tonight I was headed into the Daniel Boone National Forest to Twin Knobs. This place looked great! It was set on a large lake. The sunset was sure to be beautiful. This would be the perfect setting for my last night of solo camping. But wait! The campground was full. Aw come on! The ranger told me of a couple places within 30 minutes to an hour from here, but said I should call ahead. One was a walk in site. Since I can’t walk my element in and don’t have a mosquitto net for my hammock, that wouldn’t work. The other was way out of my way. With no cell signal I made the choice to drive back to the highway and search for something in route. I found a state park, Carter Caves, 45 minutes in the right direction with one spot left. I reserved it over the phone, and, now starving, headed over. I checked in and asked the clerks if I needed to be aware of any bear or critter issues. They told me that the ‘coons have been known to open a tent and climb into bed with the campers, but that was it really. Um, okay, that’s pretty funny. I would probably feel a little different if I were tent camping though.
I pulled into my site, jammed in between quite a few others. See the feature photo above. I didn’t get the people to the left and right of me in the photo. I didn’t want to invade their privacy. There were kids zooming around the parking lot on bikes and scooters. One little guy kept stopping in front of my site to conduct traffic, not realizing I, a stranger, had moved in until his friend pointed out that they probably shouldn’t be there. Okay, that was all kind of adorable. (This is one of those end of the summer things that signals that I’m ready to head back to work.) Then, out of nowhere, a guy comes galloping through on a horse. What? I wonder if that happens all night. I sat on the tailgate and opened up my bbq dinner. I opted for turkey, because cholesterol and stuff. As I was devouring my food I found a hair, and it wasn’t mine. Oh dear. You may wonder how I know it wasn’t mine. Well, you know when you’re pulling a hair out of your mouth, and you just know? Yeah, it was like that. I thought back to ordering my food. I could see straight into the kitchen. I know it wasn’t malicious. It was a complete accident. But I don’t recall seeing anyone with a hairnet. My parents require their employees wear hairnets AND beardnets. It’s common courtesy for your customers I think. Well, I had had enough to eat, so I threw out the rest and headed to my mobile bed for one last night.