Sorry for the delay to all my avid readers (haha). I was down for the count with a mysterious illness this weekend...turning on a computer was not on my radar. But here you go...Part 3!
Quick recap: We planned a family camping trip to Kentucky over Labor Day weekend, the location being driven by a wedding we were supposed to attend. A lot happened with that, and we completely changed our plans and opted for Missouri instead. We arrived to our very buggy, muggy, and dark campsite at Markham Springs right after a thunderstorm had passed through, set up our tent, ate dinner and went to bed. We had approximately 2 fun through all of this (on a scale of 1-10). We held out hope that the rest of the trip would be better!
Completely irrelevant information at this point. Someone asked me how/what I made for dinner on Thursday if it was raining. I made steak tacos with cilantro and onion (and refried beans) on our camp stove by covering the camp stove and pans with foil while I worked. It seemed to go okay.
And now the adventure continues!
Even though we'd already struck out the day before, I was convinced we could make a good time of our trip, and was determined to get a good breakfast in, followed by finding some mad hiking trails.
While I started on breakfast, Anthony and Little Man took a little wander around our site with our very rambunctious dogs, both of whom were glad to be leash free and running wild after a day in the car followed immediately by a night in a tent. There was a river not far from our site, and they went to check that out.
|^ Is that not the most tired baby you've ever seen?|
After we ate (eggs with leftover taco meat), the crew went for another walk while I cleaned up. The quality of sleep the night before can best be summed up in the following picture, which occurred right when they got back. Obviously, we had to postpone our hike for a while:
While someone was sleeping, I did some yoga then Anthony and I prepped and packed the stuff we'd need for a hike. We had talked a bit and decided to drive away from our campsite for the morning's hiking. We wanted to get a longer hike in, and the trail near our site was short (a loop a little under 2 miles).
We didn't have a map of the area and had really spotty cell service, so we stopped by the same shop in Williamsville and asked the locals. The man I talked to gave me very basic directions, pretty much sending us back the way we'd originally driven in the day before, and said it would be about 15 miles to the closest recreation area which had some hiking trails. He told me that once we were on 67 there would be signs we could follow to 'Greenville Recreation Area'.
So we headed out, and FINALLY found a hiking path. I say finally because it actually took us a lot longer than we thought it would. There were not many trail heads, and some of the actual recreation areas seemed to be closed(?). When we did finally find a trail head with a very small parking lot I spotted a map hanging up on a signboard, and we decided that would have to do for a starting point.
The map (below) made it really hard to orient ourselves, but I finally figured out that we had found an outlet for the Ozark Trail...it's the yellow dotted line going through the dark green patch on the map.
From where we were, the trail would take us 2 miles towards the Greenville Recreation area, where we could hang out/eat lunch/play a bit before turning around to hike the two miles back.
Or so we thought.
Because seriously, I have told you this trip was not good, so please don't think that plan actually happened.
We started our hike!
|Daddy supermanning it up! Carrying baby and commanding the doggos!|
We did not even get 10 feet onto this path before we were confronted with an entire spider web strung up across it, big fat spider sitting in the middle and all. Undeterred, I picked up a stick, batted down the web (sorry spidey) and we continued on our way.
For another three feet, where I was met with another web.
I'll just go ahead and tell you now that it did not get better. Our solution was that we both picked up rather lengthy sticks and, as we walked forward, twirled them in a circular motion to bring down any webs we came across. And that seemed to work for a while, so we forged on.
|Little Man, taking in the scenery.|
Despite the spiders and the humidity, the nice thing about the woods is that we were in the shade. We hiked a little over half a mile, and then came to some prairie, which finally gave us respite from the spiders (even if we were now in the sun)!
|Annoyed with my request for a photo op :P|
One step in, okay. Second step in, alright there's a web up ahead. Third step, take down web. Forth step...
Holy shit, these trees are netted in webs.
|Pretending we're happy and it's all okay.|
Sounded like a plan!
(Please tell me you're beginning to catch all the sarcasm regarding this trip's "plans"...)
We got back to the car, our measly two mile hike all we had to show for it, and headed back the way we'd come. You'll remember me mentioning the lack of trail heads, which we again struggled with. We decided to just follow signs for the recreation area, and finally spotted one and turned off. And as we pulled up we were greeted with...
...a no trespass sign.
Actually, multiple signs.
Because - the signs announced - the recreation area and adjacent campsite were closed for improvement until Summer 2020. There was no beach access, no access to the playgrounds or pavilions, no canoeing or kayaking allowed, and no...hiking.
Which clearly explained why we had not been able to reserve one of the campsites a month earlier. You would think one of the many websites I visited beforehand would have mentioned this. Alas, no.
Womp. Womp. WOMP.
So back to the campground we went!
We took our drive back, now very aware that we were spending more time in the car than anywhere else on this "camping" trip.
We ate said lunch, and then packed things up again to go exploring. Sidenote: Everything about toting a baby with you makes stuff slightly more difficult, like making sure you have the diapers and wipes and pacifiers and water cups and...and...and...
...but we got it figured out and went on our merry way.
One of the things I forgot to mention is that this campsite had three loops for actual camping. Two were dedicated to trailer hookups (ie you can get electricity at the site), and our loop was just for "primitive" (ie tent) camping. We decided to walk around the loops and scope things out, then wander to the trail head for a leisurely hike. I'd read up ahead of time and knew it would be an easy loop, and we were okay with taking our time.
We made the rounds and found a sign pointing towards the trail, and started out.
And 100 feet in, we stopped.
I am not kidding, nor am I exaggerating. We weren't even out of a sight of the closest campgrounds when we realized the trail was not hikable in the best of circumstances, and it certainly was not hikable with a baby on our backs and two dogs in tow.
Not only had a large tree fallen across the path - the path was completely obstructed by fallen brush and foliage up to knee height. There was no way around it either, because the river was directly to the right of the trail.
So we did what anyone would do on a looped trail - we turned around and decided we would hike as far as we could in the other direction, and then turn around to make our return when necessary. Good plan.
That ended up not working either, because the trail just...stopped existing on the other side. I was baffled, and pretty upset. I'd done a lot of reading about this campground. I knew there was access to this trail (which had a sign pointing directly at it) and that it was a looped trail. People had been posting reviews about hiking it as currently as June. I knew we should be able to get on it.
And yet, we couldn't.
So we turned away from the trail, opting to just walk wherever there was area for us to walk. Parking lot? Okay. Small field? Alright. Around a pond? Sounds good. On the side of a road leading in to camp? Why not. We just wanted to be moving, and so we moved, once again trying to make the best of things that were not turning out to have any best to be made.
Although we did find this mill:
|This is a mill!|
|Family picture time! Again, pretending like "making the most of this" is actually working.|
|You can tell how thrilled he is regarding everything with this trip.|
|Our cute (and hot) puppers.|
|Trying to make the best of things while sweating our skin off!|
|Not quite hiking if it's a road, huh?|
Back to our site we went.
|Back at the campsite.|
|When we finally gave in.|
You see, on our way back from our "hike" we started talking about leaving Markham Springs. It started with "maybe it won't be so bad to leave a day early" (Saturday, rather than Sunday). Things gradually morphed when I mentioned that I really wanted to stop in St Louis to see the arch, and given that STL was on our way home we would be able to have a much shorter, more leisurely drive back home on Sunday if we stopped Saturday night.
Both of us were bummed about the decision. The campground just turned out to be a total waste of time, money, energy, emotion, etc etc etc. A waste of money for the reservation, of time and money for the drive there and back, of energy for the KY to MO rebooking nonsense and stress that had originally occurred, and of emotion for our first vacation as a family failed.
We were both in pretty low spirits, knowing this would likely be our only chance for a vacation any time in the near future and the only thing that made it better was that Little Man did not know, and would not care. And that really did help make it a bit better.
So it was decided. We would do our best to find a dog friendly hotel somewhere near St Louis. On Saturday morning we would pack up and head out and find something (dog and child) friendly to do.
We had no expectations for any of it to be worthwhile or enjoyable, but we'd enjoy air conditioning and hot showers and a bed before heading home on Sunday.
Part 4 to come!