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Monday, April 18, 2016

Heading to Ames


I woke at seven to rain. This is the third time I’ve left on a trip in the rain. Not a problem since I knew it was coming and I pack well ahead and leave the last minute things to a minimum. I wasn’t planning on leaving until after mail delivery at about noon. I did a propane-filling stop on my way to dump and then to Burley to pick up some beer for my son’s Frat, ATO. I was going to Ames to visit my son at ISU for parent’s weekend at the Frat. I met about 15 of his brothers in Orange Beach on the Alabama Gulf Coast last March. I got onto Rt 50 heading west at 1 PM.
The going was slow with the rain and slow driving conditions and traffic. I stopped for lunch at a diner in Easton, just before the Bay Bridge. I wandered through the Baltimore area to Rt 70 West. As I got on Rt 70, the rain stopped and the sun was bright in the sky making it humid. I got off 70 and onto the National Freeway, Rt 68, which goes by the National Freeway through Cumberland, a beautiful area of Western Maryland into West Virginia. Then I head north through PA for a short time and then through WV again into Ohio back onto Rt 70 where I stayed at the Visitor Center Rest Stop. I found a spot between two 18-wheelers and cooked dinner, a snapper fillet and made a tomato/cucumber/red onion salad. I read some and probably fell asleep by 11.
I woke early to the heat going on. I stayed in bed for a while and finally emerged at 7:15. I had breakfast and was on the road by 8:30 heading to Delabar State Park in Oquawka, IL on the Mississippi River. I’m in CST so I get the afternoon sun. I’m alone, the park is closed, but I find a spot with the electric still on. I’m looking west as the sunsets over the Big Muddy near Lock and Dam Number 18. The sky is beautiful. A couple show up in two cars, make a fire, drink some beer and leave. Other cars drive in to drive down to the river. One car follows the loop up to me. They are three locals driving around in their convertible. We share pleasantries. Dinner is grilled chicken with a couple of pieces of grilled zucchini. At sunset, I collect wood from around site; get some pinecones from the car (I brought a cache of pinecones) and some wood I brought with me. I have a fire, relax and drink some beer, listen to music, and gaze at the big sky over the Mississippi. I feel like a Twain character.  I’m in bed and asleep by 11. I wake to a wonderful sunrise, make breakfast and hit the road at 9 AM for Ledges State Park 10 miles from Ames. I follow the river south through a community on the river to Gulfport and cross the Mississippi into Burlington and head NW on 34, 63, 163, 80, to 17. I arrived at 1:30 and used the dump to empty everything and load up on water. I just have electric; no water at this site, 35 and the camp is sold out. I set camp in the bright and warm sun. The bathhouses open tomorrow so I shower in the Scamp. I grill a piece of salmon steak and a couple of pieces of zucchini. I spend the afternoon relaxing in the sun and enjoy the calm as will see my son and meet his girlfriend, Annie, tonight at dinner. She is a delightful young woman with a wonderful sense of humor and has a good read of my son.
Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz seduced me again. I have read this book before.
I woke early Friday and headed into Ames to have a mechanic look at the car. A sudden clanking underneath bothered me. The mechanic went for a ride with me and knew the common problem to the Jeep Liberty immediately. They had the part and in two hours I was back in business. Tommy was just waking as I left the shop to meet up with Tommy for lunch at the Olde Main Brewing Company in Ames. We had lunch and some of their beer before heading back to the frat and walked into town to go to another bar we have been to before. It is a sports bar. I saw the building Tom will be moving into next year. We went back to the frat and hung out a while before heading back downtown to another bar for FAC, Friday After Class for fifty cent drinks. I got a pitcher of Lagunitas IPA for four dollars. They headed for one more bar at which I had one beer before heading back to camp for dinner and a fire and a lovely evening by the fire. I had a pleasant sleep and woke late to a lovely day and ready to enjoy the day at the frat with my son and his brothers and parents. The party was fabulous and lots of parents showed up. There was also the Spring Football game going on. The stadium was packed which meant all the roads were packed. It was like a rivalry in the fall. At two Tommy got prepared for his formal with Annie. He had a suit with a bowtie. He looked very sharp. We meet at the sports bar in town. Annie was with her younger sister and two of her cousins who had come down from Chicago to see her. She looked beautiful in an outfit Tommy helped pick out. They left for the formal and I headed home.
The farmers are very busy right now preparing their fields for planting. The fresh smell of earth hangs in the air. It’s Saturday night and the camp is full. It’s the first good weekend that everyone can camp after a brutal winter and tough cold, wet spring. The children are running and screaming all over the camp, families are meeting and sitting outside enjoying that and yakking it up with great exuberance. Fires can be seen everywhere. I watch the earth move as I sit in my chair watching the moon through the large branches of the unfolding tree above me. I sit still and watch the moon get blocked by a branch and then appear on the other side.  I retire at 10 to the boisterous outside that I lock out as I close the door. I read a chapter of my new book, The Patriarch by Martin Walker, a Bruno, the Chief of Police novel. I’ve read all the previous in the series and Walker is a good writer. In this one, Pamela, his latest girlfriend breaks up with him. Sunday is a subdued time as campers recover from last night and spend time breaking camp and preparing to go home and prepare for work or school the next day. I wake at 8:30 and already some spots are empty and others promise to be shortly. I have breakfast and sit outside on this glorious morning and read. I following the soccer matches in England and see some good results for my Spurs. They play Stoke tomorrow night. Both the Foxes and Gummers tied so the Spurs can move closer to Leister and further away from Arsenal who dropped to fourth, as Man City took third. It’s getting exciting. At noon I headed into Ames to meet Tommy at his place of business, +39 Restaurant. He makes pizzas in this very fine and exclusive Italian restaurant in Ames. It is very fancy. He makes good pizzas, I had one. He headed home to shower since he was covered in flour and to take a nap. He had to do a second shift today from 5:30 to 9. I went back to camp and found it empty. I listened to the Big Broadcast by the fire.
I woke early to head south to Harry S Truman SP.

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