The winds had decreased slightly by morning, so on the road we were and pressing for Des Moines. Kansas slowly passed by and the winds eventually eased off the further East we went. Late afternoon found us still well short of Iowa, so we rolled into Watkins State Park, south of Cameron, MO, just before they closed the gate. It was a wonderful, little spot for the night. It’s a sweet, little park if you find yourself in the vicinity. Great people, nice sites and lots of beautiful oak trees! The colors this year are gorgeous and so late in the season. Many just turning – reds in many shades and hues along with the usual array of goldens. You’ll have to take our word for it, we didn’t take any pics! Oops!
We left the next morning truly refreshed after a quiet night in the woods and the use of a clean, warm shower house. Our trip north from Kansas City was event free barring a bit of construction. We have driven in A LOT of construction over this almost 1300 miles. Most of it is at a halt with the government shut down but the construction slow down still takes place with the slower speeds and miles of single lanes.
By now, RHonda’s Mom and Dad were anxiously awaiting us to arrive in IA with all the delays so we made a quick stop in Osceola, IA, for a short “catch up” lunch. Headed north again to our final destination of Walnut Woods State Park, we soon found ourselves entangled in the massive road construction around Des Moines. Our exit and the next exit were closed. It was rush hour, we were so tired after the last 10 days driving, road challenges and activities, we were trying not to growl at each other. We detoured and came around the west side of Des Moines the long way (and through MORE construction and detours!) but arrived at Walnut Woods State Park prior to sunset. This park is a well kept secret and most don’t know that it has 20 RV/camping sites hidden away here in the black walnut forest by the Raccoon River. Absolutely lovely this time of year! Our site was electric only due to a reservation boo-boo I made. We were planning to take on fresh water and dump our waste tanks on arrival. Much to our dismay, the camp host told us the dump station and water hydrant were sealed yesterday
A little side perk of staying here, the park does not allow any of the fallen walnuts to be picked up by humans. There is a constant buffet served for the birds, chipmunks and squirrels. The fallen black walnuts can be heard softly popping almost constantly as people drive through the park. The birds come to feast on the open nuts. We saw mostly downys, red headed woodpeckers, nuthatches but there were also some yellow bellied warblers. We had a front row seat!
The following two weeks were pretty jam-packed with visiting, supporting family. We had come to the DSM area to help RHonda’s Dad who had been having some health challenges, spend time with all our family, celebrate a few birthdays (RHonda’s Mom will be 90 in a couple of weeks!!) and seek counsel from a few life friends. It was a full time! We helped my Dad with a new kitchen floor while RHonda and Mom worked on a bed ruffle, sewing machine repairs, and a few other things. We had Chinese and laughed over pictures and our adventures.
At the Taylor Farm, there was a lot of catching up to do! Our nephew Alex and wife, Stacia, surprised us by coming the first night for a laughter-filled dinner with the rest of the clan. RHonda mercilessly went through her Mom’s closet removing the remaining evidence of a recent 30# weight loss. (2-3 dress sizes!) After that, there had to be a successful shopping trip with the girls together in Des Moines. The Girls all had a lunch together – Mom, RHonda, SIL Danelle, Niece Katie (Kat), NIL Stacia and a few friends stopped by the table to surprise RHonda. There were also lovely times with life friends as we caught up and received counsel in this new and unique season of life.