Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ozark gathering May 8-10- my first solo trip

My first solo weekend in the vardo. I decided to join up with the teardrop group for a Missouri Ozark gathering at Riverfront Campground ( near Lebanon, MO on the banks of the Niangua river .
I decided to go down early to give myself a chance to set up camp on my own - arrived at campground on Thursday early evening. Only saw one other teardrop there - he came over and introduced himself. I’ve forgotten his name – but he was from Arkansas. He shared some firewood and thank goodness lent me a hand to put up a new screenhouse . I got the campsite all set up cute, hung party lights inside the screenhouse, set up my kitchen stuff there. Another camper drove in and introduced himself – Riverrat Ron ( he wasn’t with the teardrop group – just a wilderness survival kayak guy in a white panel van) Now that I tell the story I guess I should have been a little leary of a guy in a panel van, but he seemed friendly and not too scary! I suppose I should be little more savey and cautious about strangers – but my gut instincts said he was OK. I went to bed pretty early and air con felt pretty good that night as it was really muggy. That should have been my warning that the weather was changing. For some reason I woke up pretty early – around 6 or so. Turned on the radio and heard about all these storms and possible tornados just south of me in Springfield area. I got in car and drove to other campers (two more teardrops had arrived in the night – including Warpony who was the organizer of this event) I asked if they were concerned about the weather and they didn’t seem concerned – said it was way south. I realized I didn’t know what county I was in( something you should know when you are traveling!) , they said we were in Dallas County. So I went back to the vardo, pulled out my map and sat nervously listening to the radio. It seemed the storm path was really widening and now included Dallas County. When I heard about a school roof being blown off just 10 miles away, I must say a little panic set in. I looked around to see where I might take cover - I contemplated putting a blanket around me and a plastic tub to block the glass and just sit it out in the truck. Called Mike at work ( not that he could be much help but just needed to talk through what to do with someone!!) I drove up the hill to the camp shower house – but it had not been unlocked for the season. Looking around at the buildings – many of which had sheet metal roofs, this didn’t seem to be the safest bet. Sheer panic was growing and the other two couples drove up looking for shelter too. Also the owner of the campground arrived and suggested we go back to the main road and we’d find a motel just next door that had underground shelter. At that time the rain was really coming down in buckets and I was thankful for my truck and 4 wheel drive to make it up the mile steep gravel road to the highway. Got to the hotel and took shelter and watched the storm blow over – think I was driving through the worst of it! The other two couples and I then decided to go to the restaurant next door for breakfast. Coming back to the campground they had to add gravel and blade the road which had basically washed out in the storm.
The vardo survived without incident, but my new screenhouse took a beating (broken poles and tears in screen – cheap walmart products) - my cooking box dumped over and everything wet and muddy, partylights broken, but nothing too bad. I just spent the day cleaning and drying everything off. The river was now covering the entire lower campground and the area next to my campsite was a swamp!

That night and the rest of the weekend were beautiful. We had a group breakfast on Sat. with Gary and Trudy making breakfast in their dutch ovens – it was great. Since we couldn’t float on the river I decided to go garage saling! Found some goodies for the vardo (my stuff box, flower box, a cool bamboo octogon table for my umbrellaand few other goodies) That evening we had a great potluck – so much good food and many new people that were so friendly. Ended with a fabulous campfire – smores and all. Learned something new – if you put old Christmas lights on the fire – they will change the flames to beautiful greens, purple and blue for a long time. Not so sure this is the good thing for the environment, but a cool thing to do with cheap broken lights!! Hope to meet up with these teardrop folks at other gatherings.

1 comment:

  1. Well I'm glad I wasn't too scary...I've camped and floated that river for 20 yrs and have never seen a camper like that. What a nice lady and your instincts were right, just a nice guy that appreciates strangers that love nature. that storm was awesome...I rode it out...Ck it out, got a few I'll always be looking for that camper, it brings out the Hippy in me...