South to Iowa

After leaving the Lake Superior shore in Wisconsin we began our move generally south towards Florida.  With our departure from the Twin Cities region, we accelerated that journey, pushing nearly 200 miles down to the outskirts of Ames, Iowa to visit my daughter, Andrea.  She recently moved there, so this will be our first visit to her new home town, though we did RV in a great Iowa county park last year, a place that helped to cement out love of county parks in general.

If you squint through the bug splatter on the windshield you can just make out the Iowa welcome sign.

Neither the military nor Passport America had anything for us in the region, so seeing on All Stays that the state is awash in county park options, we selected a nearby one that had the top marks from RV Park Reviews for the Ames area: Little Wall Lake County Park.  It was a little further from Andrea’s apartment than Ledges State Park, but Ledges’ reservation system revealed that it would be full for the upcoming weekend, whereas Little Wall, like many county properties, operates predominantly as a first come – first serve campground, with only 6 of the 108 RV sites reservable.  Since we would be arriving on a Wednesday, we had no doubt that something would be available.

PKM guarding the RV while I sort out a spot.

Sure enough, we arrived to a campground less than 20% full.  No check in office to speak of, just a self serve booth with forms and a deposit box.  We broke the code on site selection, and eventually aided by the camp host we picked a full hook up spot near the east end of the property from the score or so lake front options available.  We would normally choose to save the three bucks per night by choosing one of the electric and water only sites, but none of those were available lake side.  At $25 a night the full hook ups were not unreasonable.

Our first site on the east end of the campground: beautiful, no wifi.

The only downside to our site selection: we were at the very edge of the free wifi antenna’s range, mostly unable to connect.  Having walked down to spots nearer the antenna, computer in hand, and verified that the campground wifi “pipe” was pretty robust, we elected to move our rig back towards the center of camp the next morning.  Since we had not pulled out our chairs, grill, hammock, and other camping accoutrements that first day, it was not that big a deal to unhook services for the move.  The excellent wifi for the remainder of our stay made it worth the trouble, and our new site, though not quite as nice, was still lake front with at least one decent sized shade tree.  For any future Little Wall campers: the closer you are to site 10 or 11, the better the wifi.  We started in 27, but moved to 15.

Our second site nearer the center of the property: still lake front, excellent wifi.

As mentioned last post, Rosemarie had come down with a stomach bug, and was down hard for the first two days of our stop in Iowa.  This had two consequences: since my little shutterbug was unable to maintain a minute by minute photographic record of our time in Iowa, we had a grand total of maybe 15 pictures (as opposed to the couple of hundred I normally have to sort through) from which to select the 9 you see in this post.  It also meant that on day two I visited with Andrea and her boyfriend Nate alone, letting them show me the middle eastern market and associated deli (fantastic lamb gyro and baba ganoush), the food coop, and a couple of other sites.

Little Wall Lake

By the next day Rosemarie was feeling mildly better, so we ate dinner with Andrea and Nate, bringing them Wisconsin pickles and cheese (as is tradition) while they prepared butternut squash risotto.  While hardly a vegetarian like Andrea, I thought it was fantastic, needing only a slab of bacon on top to push it into Manna From Heaven territory.

The next day Rosemarie and I visited the downtown Ames farmers market, but for the first time in over a month, merely as attendees rather than vendors.  It was a nice market with a score or so of sellers and two live music acts, one at each end of the two block set up.  We met up with Andrea at her new favorite thrift store, where on a whim I purchased an entire set of golf clubs (putter, perimeter weighted irons, 2 carbon graphite shafted woods) and a compact golf bag, all for $12.  I have been hankering to play a bit after being out of the game for 15 years or so, and upcoming campgrounds look like they will present some very affordable opportunities for a few rounds.

We finished off the day with a pint at Alluvial Brewery on the outskirts of town.  They offered up a selection of eight or so craft beers plus cider, kombucha, and house made root beer.  We have had the opportunity to visit a good number of local breweries during our travels, and finding ones with a stout or ESB on tap is not common: Alluvial had both.

After a pint we said our goodbyes and headed back for our last night in Iowa before pointing our rig directly towards Florida.  The next week would see, for us, a recklessly aggressive push towards our home state, covering an amazing 800 miles in only five days!

Pad Kee Meow, exhausted at the prospect of our coming reckless charge towards Florida.