Ames, Iowa, en route to Indiana

Alright so: here at Shell On Wheels we operate with limited advance planning.  That means few reservations more than a week in advance, leaving us the flexibility to adjust our itinerary on the go.  But after careful coordination with Dad and Stepmom Marcia, we had agreed to meet up in Brown County, Indiana, one of the most interesting destinations in that state, during mid September.  But, reasonable route planning meant that we should first visit daughter Andrea, currently enrolled in a nursing program in Ames, Iowa.  As it happened, Dad and Marcia, full time Rvers as well, were coming from the west, and it worked out quite well for all of us to gather in Ames before some of us met up in Indiana.

And so that is what The Great Shell On Wheels Casino Run of ’18 set in motion:  a pre-visit with family in Iowa before an eventual gathering in Indiana.  But where, oh where shall we stay?  Our two previous stops in Ames entailed a stay at Little Wall Lake County Park (a bit further away from Andrea than ideal) and a year later a stop at Ledges State Park (an ideal location, but closed for major repair and renovation work this season.) N

Fortunately Dad and Marcia got to Ames a couple of days before us, settled for a night in a “resort” park, and spent the next day scouting all of the local options; county, state, and private.  Their clear favorite was Hickory Grove County Park, just a few miles east of downtown Ames.  And so that is where we gathered; a two day overlap in our mutual schedules as part of our five day stay in Ames.

This was a great park; for our purposes clearly better than Little Wall because of the location, and surprisingly superior to Ledges, mainly because so many of the sites were situated directly on a nice forest lake.  Sure, it was electric hook up only, but with a fill and dump station, the $17 a night fee was a great deal.

Our excellent site backed right up on the lake.

Is Ames a destination city?  No, it is not.  But does it have some very appealing things for the intrepid RVer to enjoy? Yes, it does.  Daughter Andrea has never steered us wrong here, and this time we all enjoyed a fantastic meal at Provisions Lot.   The  Shrimp Bucatini was to die for, and the Fennel Meatball Pizza was awesome.  Even as leftovers, we loved their food.

While Andrea was working, the rest of us spent some time exploring the small but interesting nearby town of Nevada, and once we had seen both of the antique and thrift shops, we nabbed a couple of local geocaches.  Which, by the way, I feel obligated to again point out that we introduced Dad and Marcia to the hobby, and yet they are, after only two years, well ahead of us in finds!  They have only motivated us to get back into it all.

The observant reader will note that there is not a single picture of any of the so called family members we supposedly met up with this visit.  We failed to take a single one.  In lieu of that, enjoy this butterfly.

And so once they left for Indiana, Rosemarie and I spent an afternoon hitting a few more local caches, and I met Andrea, Nate, and one of their friends for lunch at the always tasty Pammel’s Grocery and Grill, specializing in Middle Eastern/Mediterranean casual meals.  We spent our last day getting Serenity ready for the road, starting with a tire change of a particularly worn balding on on the rear axle.  The next day it was time to head to Elkhart Indiana to get our windshield repaired (again!) and look for some discount interior furniture.

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