Have you ever had one of those camping excursions where everything went well? No matter which aspect of camping you considered, the final analysis was, "Yes, couldn't ask for more!" Camping at Lacey Keosauqua State Park in SE Iowa was that experience for my wife and me. Early morning walks around the lake, new equipment, great food, mild summer weather--everything went well. We could have stayed there comfortably for a very long time. It wasn't that things usually go wrong on our camping trips or that we tend to focus on the negative. It was more that during this trip we were in the zone--comfortable and competent.
We did put on bug repellent for chiggers and flying critters. I even was bitten this trip and joked to Sandy that these wild chiggers were much more aggressive than those city chiggers. Usually I'm not the target of bug attacks, but I guess it is August, and the insects all experienced in their people skills by now.
This introduces the next addition to our camp life: the Clam Quick Set Escape Shelter. Lacey was closed last year for repairs, so when we visited a few weeks ago to determine if the park was still the way we liked it, we met a couple who had a bright red Clam shelter. Sandy fell in love with it, so we bought one--brown, not red. Setting it up was easy (and so was breaking it down), and Sandy established her office in the shelter. Before, she had worked all day inside the tiny trailer, and even with a window and screen door open, there was still a real sense of being inside a small space. The Clam allowed Sandy to work outside and not feel isolated. She worked every day in her outside mobile office.
I also set up the kitchen in the shelter, which was a new experience that required arranging our cooking equipment somewhat differently, but worked well. At first, I was entering and leaving the shelter many times to get a spice from the camper or something from an ice box. Finally, everything was moved into the shelter so that I could work inside, surrounded by everything I needed. The shelter became an extra room, allowing us to be outside yet also allowing us protection from the sun and insects.
One of the reasons people choose to camp with tiny trailers is that more time is spent outside instead of inside. Adding a large shelter to our camp gear helped us on this trip to enjoy the summer experience of camping yet still have some respite from the bugs and sun. I think if we camp with our grandkids, it would be easy for me to set up a cot in the tent for sleeping at nights. Since we set the shelter up on the gravel instead of the grass, I think it was easier to manage the insect problem.
I brought my bicycle along this trip and was able to explore the park better. While Sandy was working, I took rides, discovering trails and side roads that I'd never been on before. When Sandy and I return to camp at Lacey again, we'll be able to vary our hiking or bicycling destinations, especially in the fall when the colors will be so beautiful.
The trips for me this time were short, all around 2-6 miles, but there is also a loop route I can take some time that travels through the park, out of the park through the back gate to the town of Keosauqua, and back to camp via the main entrance of the park, probably around twelve miles. This is part of my focus this year on using our tiny trailer as a basecamp for bicycle day rides. Although my rides this trip were "day rides" only in the technical sense that they weren't multi-day (or night rides), Sandy and I are starting to establish a new rhythm for our camping that accommodates our individual needs and interests.
My two-mile excursion was one of the more fun ones. Leaving the campground, the paved road to the historic Mormon crossing of the Des Moines River is only a mile away--all steeply downhill to river level. It's a nice ride, coasting that whole mile, except for that thought in the back of the mind, "Uphill all the way home!" It was, too! But I just geared down and enjoyed the quiet exercise. It's easy to see why that spot on the river was chosen as a ford. Ely Creek empties into the river at that spot. There are no bluffs, and the river is wide with a more gentle current. Along the river both upstream and downstream from the park at the crossing site, a hiking trail follows the winding river. Even though it will take a mile ride in the car to get to the park, it does provide an additional hiking route for Sandy and me.
I really feel that Sandy and I are beginning to establish a camping lifestyle that allows us to work, play, and be near family while camping. We plan to camp again at Lacey soon. It's quiet during the weekdays, close to the grandkids, has adequate cellphone receptivity for Sandy's work (with a signal booster), and has a diversity of activities for us to enjoy. We're feeling right at home in our home away from home.
(Note: As the content for Green Goddess Glamping evolves, sometimes content focus will dictate that articles will be posted on some Facebook groups and not others. Articles on Dutch oven cooking, portable toilets, or bicycle day rides, for instance, could find posts in different groups. The best way to ensure that you are receiving all articles is to subscribe to follow this blog by email notifications.)