Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Green Goddess Glamping Fall 2021 Wrap-up

Some fall camping at Lake Darling State Park
We've just passed the winter solstice, and I didn't even notice! Since this is a blog, I can write more personally and casually, so I feel comfortable telling you all that a week ago I had my front tooth pulled and some bone graft applied to that area for a future false tooth implant. I'm saying this because that's why I missed noticing the solstice and haven't been camping at the last of December, even though there has been some adequate weather. The dental surgery was more than I expected in terms of my body's reaction, so I've been taking it easy.

Because the end of the year is swooping down upon us, I might not get out in the next week. Therefore, this is a great time to think about this fall camping experience. Rather than attempt a trip-by-trip summary, I'm going to focus on a few trips and photos which encapsulate my experience of this year's "shoulder-season" camping during the first camping year my wife and I have used our new Airstream Basecamp 16-foot camper. I'm going to summarize in sets of three to keep myself from being too long-winded.

  • This fall locally was warmer than usual. We have had no snow yet.
  • I managed to camp in some new spots this fall, which added some new excitement to my trips.
  • Using my folding Montague Allston bicycle added some extra fun to my trips.
Keeping with my "theme of three," let's look at three camping trips this fall.

A longer stay at Honey Creek State Park
Honey Creek State Park--Staying Longer

This is a park that I've camped at before. This year I set up for a longer stay with our Basecamp, allowing me to erect our Clam shelter and create a true basecamp for long daily walks along the lake shore. One of my continuing camping pursuits is to travel less and spend more time at each camping site. I was able to practice this philosophy this year when camping at HCSP. 

What I've found is that "drive less, camp longer" produces a deeper camping experience. I'm able to discover new trails to hike and learn more about the history and ecology of the area. Camping longer has provided me opportunities to get out my tree and bird identification books and to research the Native Americian early inhabitants of an area. Mostly, though, on shorter trips, my attention is centered around setting up camp and then breaking camp. One challenge during the summer is to find a spot that is available for ten days to two weeks. That isn't such a problem in the fall, though. Sometimes I'm the only camper in the entire park!

An unexpectedly hot hiking day at Wildcat Den State Park

Wildcat Den State Park--Off-grid Camping

This excursion was a weekend with my wife--in unseasonably hot weather. Since this is a primitive campsite only park, we had a chance to try out our solar panels as we camped off the grid. Our weekend of camping ended up not being as perfect as we had imagined because the weather was unseasonably hot . . . and we experienced a stink bug infestation. Because we were powered by our solar panels, we weren't able to button up the camper and use the air conditioning. Nonetheless, we did spend some fun hiking time together, and the solar panels worked well. 

Camping off the grid in Iowa's primitive campgrounds isn't the same as getting way out in the boondocks, but it is a different camping experience--one I hope to pursue more in the coming years. I know there are campgrounds that are less busy and more tucked away. Finding them will be among my more fun experiences on my wanderlust trips. What will be really interesting will be to combine longer camping along with off-the-grid camping. That will be testing my Basecamp and its solar capacity!

Watch out for slippery roots beneath the leaves!
Geode State Park--Bicycle Day Rides

It has probably been five years since I've camped at Geode State Park--on a bicycle tour--so I enjoyed camping here again after the campground was closed and lake was drained, reconstructed, and then filled. I brought my folding bike along on this trip and was able to take a day ride that circled the lake . . . and also a wonderful walk on a hiking-only trail. Even though the ride around the lake ended up being about half riding and half walking (and pushing), I was able to travel a longer distance more quickly because of the bike.

Prairie and windmills at a paved Diamond Lake trail
Another new campground this year that I discovered for bicycling is Diamond Lake Campground. I didn't have my bicycle when I camped there, but the area has some excellent trails and paths for bicycling, one that even goes from the campground to the local town of Montezuma. I expect next year one of my longer camp times will be at Diamond Lake for bicycling exploration.

Starting 2022 less a tooth, what a process!
Now that winter has finally arrived, cold winter (near-zero) will be coming soon. My plans are to not publish on this blog for a month or so, focusing on my fiction writing and also on researching and writing some stories about other campers who went out on some great adventures during 2021.  Happy 2022 new year to everyone, and I'll be sending you some new articles in a bit. 

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