Along the Mississippi River – September 2020

The plan was to camp at parks along the Mississippi River

We got a late start. The departure was supposed to be at noon on a Saturday. Not sure what happened but we didn’t leave the house until 1:00 PM. That would not have been a problem except that we still needed to do the grocery shopping. We pulled into the grocery store parking lot with the trailer in tow. Since we had the dog along, only one of us could go in to buy the food. Between locating unusual ingredients for new recipes and stops at the deli and meat counter, shopping took an hour.

The drive to the first campground went very smoothly. Okay, it took longer than planned and had a couple of detours due to road construction. So, not so smooth. We arrived at the campsite at 7:19 PM. Sunset was 7:08 PM. Also, the campground had gotten quite a bit of rain over the previous days. That meant in backing into a muddy, unfamiliar site that was very tight and uneven, in the semi-darkness. The Andersen blocks were used to raise the driver side of the trailer to level left and right. With the mud, they were slipping around and it was dark by the time things were set. The next morning in the daylight it was obvious that better lighting is needed next time this is attempted.

This is what happens when you set up in the dark.

Wyalusing State Park

We completed the first night at Wyalusing State Park near Bagley Wisconsin. Our electric-only site was number 218 in the Homestead Campground. We changed the breakfast plan to one of the alternates, the Cheerios instead of pancakes. The lazy morning was partially due to a bad migraine, but camping is for lazy mornings.

We also pushed back lunch and changed to a faster meal preparing flatbread pizza instead of campfire pizza. We kept the lazy relaxing theme going with afternoon naps after a walk to the dumpster. The sun may have had something to do with the sleepiness. The dinner plans were ambitious — jambalaya. The dampness of the previous few days made it difficult to get an adequate fire to cook it properly.

Mississippi River - Wyalusing jambalaya cooking
Mississippi River – Wyalusing jambalaya cooking

We had not used the DVD player built into the trailer and decided to try it out. It seems to work well. The sound is through the trailer’s speakers so it is better than the TV speakers. Once the subtitle switch was located and turned off, it was enjoyable to watch The Thin Man.

We are on the fence about a return visit to this campground. The site was mostly clay and Class 5 rock. It stayed muddy the entire stay. Maybe we will come back if the more scenic sites overlooking the river are upgraded to electric.

Monday was another relaxing morning. We planned to check out close to 3:00 PM since the next campsite was only an hour drive with a 4:00 PM check-in time. If we are to believe the tank sensors, the fresh water was down to a ⅓ and the gray tank was up to ⅔. A dump station with a fresh water fill was in our future that day. We had a fairly late breakfast of French toast and bacon. It feels strange to stick around into the afternoon at a campground on departure day. With a late breakfast and packing up, the lunch was simply hotdogs and chips.

We stopped at the dump station on the way out, the gauges seem to be accurate. The fresh water tank has an overflow, as expected. The old trailer had it right at the fill hole, but it is underneath this trailer. It was kind of embarrassing to have the people in line behind us point that out. Lots of learning at this dump station; the lore is that the water runs faster if you pull down on the spring loaded fill pipe. Searching the internet did not confirm or debunk this theory.

Grant River Recreation Area

The short drive of approximately an hour ended at the Grant River Recreation Area. This is a campground of the Army Corps of Engineers right on the Mississippi River. The back of our site, number 30, was the river itself. The site had a concrete pad to park the trailer and a gravel area with picnic table and fire ring. At this point we are both fighting coughs and loss of appetite so the dinner was a selection of cheeses and crackers with a bottle of Loxton Rosé. The Loxton winery is in Sonoma, California. We had a wonderful time visiting the winery in November of 2019.

A casual dinner at Grant River campground of wine and cheese.

Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, our only tourist stop on the trip was going to be the filming site for Field of Dreams. So, the film du jour was Field of Dreams this evening.

Woke up early enough on Tuesday morning to walk the dog around the campground before the 7:00 AM workout. After some technical difficulties a Zoom connection was made with the trainer. The session was mostly stretching as the aforementioned cough was still strongly making its presence known. An egg scramble and toast breakfast out at the picnic table helped to keep relaxing theme into another day. The remainder of the day was restful with a couple of walks with the dog in the campground. Does it get more relaxing than jambalaya leftovers for lunch?

There were frequent interruptions by freight trains on the tracks next to the campground. Some people would find this a downside to the campground, but it wasn’t as intrusive as we had been lead to believe.

The tracks are close to the campground at Grant River

With the previous trailer, the mattress was not comfortable so we added a two inch memory foam pad. With the new trailer the logic was if two is good, four is better. Nope, too soft. We tried a different plan — moved the memory foam below the mattress. After a nap test, this is now the approved configuration.

The meal plan changed again. The chicken breast was closer to expiration, so we had Chicken Cordon Bleu foil dinners. We added broccoli into the foil. Unfortunately the ingredients list didn’t include Pam spray and we don’t usually use it. We substituted olive oil and it charred a bit.

Mississippi RIver - Grant River sunset through trees over river
Mississippi River – Grant River sunset through trees over river with added color due to California wildfires

The evening movie was Desk Set. We may run out of movies even though this was a last minute rainy day option and we have not had rain.

Wednesday we both woke up coughing again. For me this is now about 3 weeks. After a fancy breakfast of Cheerios, we called the nurse line at our medical provider and ended up with a video visit with a doctor. He determined that our symptoms were extremely unlikely to be COIVD-19 and continuing the trip was still an option. Any people we came into contact with would be wary that we had the virus.

We decided to continue on. The dump station did not have potable water. [It’s always a good idea to check out the dump station sometime before you are going to be using it.] The rules of the campground did permit connecting to the water spigots dispersed around the area to fill the fresh water tank, not to remain hooked up for the stay. Since we had just bought a new 50′ hose and had not removed the old 50′ or the 25′ hose, we we’re able to get to the nearby spigot 110′ away. I guess the old hoses will stay in the trailer for those just in case moments. We then packed up to move to another Army Corps campground, Fisherman’s Corner.

On the way to the dump station, after a coughing fit, we decided to go home instead of the next site. It seemed prudent to not travel farther from home. We wanted the option to be able to go in and be seen by a doctor. We drove home mostly on US 52. The Field of Dreams would have to wait.

We got home after dark. Rather than messing with backing in, we pulled straight into the driveway, but parked too close to a pine tree and could not open the trailer door. Before we could move the trailer, we had to move our VW Bug. It had a dead battery, so we coasted it to the side of the driveway. That allowed us to move the trailer more to the center of the driveway and we were home!

In case the reader is wondering, yes, a doctor visit happened and the diagnosis was pneumonia. This was the last camping of the 2020 season.

Trailer mileage

DateStart LocationStart CityEnd LocationEnd CityMiles
Previous miles843.5
9/12/2020HomeWhite Bear Twp., MNWyalusing State ParkBagley, WI222.0
9/14/2020Wyalusing State ParkBagley, WIGrant River Rec. AreaPotosi, WI52.0
9/16/2020Grant River Rec. AreaPotosi, WIHomeWhite Bear Twp., MN247.0
Total miles1,364.5

Since we had planned a longer trip, the meal list is longer than we actually ended up preparing.

Meals Planned

DateMealMenu
Saturday, September 12LunchHam & Cheese sandwiches on the road
DinnerSteak Kabobs on the grill
Little potatoes
Salad greens and tomatoes
Sunday, September 13BreakfastPancakes on the griddle
Sausage links
LunchCampfire pizza
DinnerJambalaya on the campfire
Sour dough bread
Salad greens and tomatoes
Monday, September 14BreakfastFrench Toast on the griddle
Sausage links
LunchBrats / hot dogs
Chips & salsa
DinnerKowalski’s Meatloaf
Little potatoes
Carrots w/balsamic
Tuesday, September 15BreakfastScrambled eggs w/everything
Bacon
LunchPotosi Brewing
DinnerPork Tenderloin
Brown rice
Green beans
Wednesday, September 16BreakfastPancakes on the griddle
Sausage links
LunchTuna sandwiches
Chips
Fruit
DinnerFoil dinner
Thursday, September 17BreakfastFrench toast on the griddle
LunchCrab Quesadillas
DinnerPasta w/Alfredo
Canned peas
Friday, September 18BreakfastChili con queso omelettes
LunchBrats / hot dogs
Chips & Salsa
DinnerHomemade Lasagna (frozen)
Canned corn
Saturday, September 19BreakfastBeignets
Fruit
LunchFlatbread pizza
DinnerTuna Spaghetti
Canned peas
Sunday, September 20BreakfastScrambled eggs w/everything
LunchKarst Brewing (BYO Sandwiches)
AlternatesBreakfastCheerios
LunchGrilled cheese & Tomato soup
DinnerPasta w/pesto
Homemade Chili (frozen)

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