Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Missouri Loves Company

In this post we find a poo pond in Iowa, drive a jeep underground and touch a Grizzly. 

Starting out we point Ocho south and put a pin on Springfield, Mo. SatNav tells me it's 10 hours and we are rationing our travel v. excursions to arrive to see our Grizzly's.

First stop is a State Park in southern Iowa or what passes as a State Park in flat land. 
 It's late in the fall and we are the only ones in the park and it still wasn't any good. No trail maps, not even on the main park 'welcome' board and the park head quarters was a house. Not a kitschy log home but a real residence fit with junk cars, old faded paint and a home made sign on the garage saying "park manager".
We find a trail sign and within 200 feet it has a sink hole. I push on another thousand feet and it's hardly a trail. I turn around but it's not a total loss because we need to get to Missouri and this place is a joke compared to a proper MN State Park.

49 roadside billboards later and we figure "what the hell" lets take 
a jeep tour of a cave.
Left: Clean burning propane. Right: well, not clean but old (not her, the jeep, dam get me in trouble).

 We are in a long trailer getting towed by a guide that knew almost nothing about a cave. I have some wild cave experience and ask a simple questions about 'mapped passage' and she is clueless about what that means and tells me we are 80 feet under ground. I should say there is a park manager in Iowa she needs to meet.

 The tour is short but the formations are actually very good. I've been told that southern caves are the thing to see and MN is a little weak on formations and from this first taste its very true.

We poke around a little to see the gift store offerings, post cards and 'gems' of rose quartz and a short interpretive trail to see the original electric generator and the original entrance but I need to go touch a Grizzly.

An hour later and bam, Grizzly Tools. I've been buying shop tools from Grizzly since 2004. I have a shop full of cast iron from them and I was in the market for a metal lathe so we made it a road trip vacation.

 We came all this way to see these tools. I look and poke around for just short of 2 hours looking at about 12 different models. I did say we and she wasn't entirely disinterested and couldn't resist reading the catalog to me with the glee of a small child talking to Santa.

It's getting late and we need to find a place to stay tonight. I short search and we have a KOA on the other side of a river and a huge highway. KOA's are actually very nice these days. They are no good for tenting but then we are more house-ing and they like RV's

After the KOA we are mostly headed home and this time a good cozy MN State Park
This is Big Island again. Seven months ago this was the first park of the year and now it's almost the last. 

We drove a few hundred miles to see a sewage lagoon in an Iowa park, an iron Grizzly and a less than Fantastic Cave so Missouri love Misery and we love Minnesota and KOA's.

Next up is a mixed bag of short adventures a 3 day to the north shore and one cool river ride.

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