Our Next Chapter

April Fools on You!

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From the green acres of Missouri to the frigid depths of snow in Wisconsin! Welcome back!

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April 1st is here and the trick is on us, it is still really cold in Northwestern, Wisconsin, and there are flurries in the forecast for the River Falls area where we have now landed for a few months. We stayed in Eureka, Missouri, an extra few days and it is a good thing we did due to the cold snap and dumping of some more snow in Northwestern Wisconsin. We knew River Falls could easily get more snow, but had hoped that the temperature would be on top of the average curve, not under it.  When we arrived in River Falls the asphalt pads in the campground were all cleared.  Water is not yet on in the park, so we are rationing the third of a tank that we have on board from Eureka.

A recap of some of the interesting stats of our first segment of Our Next Chapter:

  • We traveled a total of 11,106 miles, from River Falls to River Falls.
  • We headed South on November 10th, 2017, missing our departure date by 10 days because of various issues with the truck, twice.
  • We were back in River Falls on time, March 31st, 2018, 3:30PM.
  • We had 5 visitors from Wisconsin that we were able to spend about 3 weeks with total.
  • We saw two rockets sent up by Space-X, one up close and one from a distance.
  • We paid $190 to Florida’s Sunpass for toll roads in Florida, we avoided taking tolls in any other state.
  • We had just one unplanned travel issue, with the flat tire on the trailer.
  • We had some issues with maintenance on the truck, but those were at least scheduled maintenance issued. (Oh, and Jason’s oops with the back window.)
  • Our own health was good, with our family doctor going above and beyond to order prescriptions for us each month at our local pharmacy.
  • We made one vet visit in Memphis to address Rico’s gastro-anomalies.
  • We had one routine doctor visit where we used the “telemedicience” our previous insurance company, WEA, using a video call on our smart phone.
  • Our insurance Company, Health Partners, covered our urgent care visits for our bought with the seasonal flu while in Florida.
  • We made 11 visits to the Walt Disney World properties during our stay in central Florida.
  • We were out on this segment of our journey for 136 nights.
  • We stayed in Thousand Trails parks on our membership for 48 nights.  We bought the Thousand Trails, and then added the Trails Collection add-on later, on October 7, 2017.  We plan to use at least two more weeks for sure.  So far we are realizing $13.85/night on the Thousand Trails alone.
  • We stayed 1 night for free boondocking at a Wildlife Management Area in Georgia.

It was great being “home” for Easter, to share in the holiday with friends and family. We worshiped at Faith Lutheran in River Falls on Sunday, what a blessed vibrant and musical congregation.  We visited several other WELS churches around the country before and during this segment of our trip.  We have never been to another church with such a powerful and scripture centered energy to worship.

This past week we made many miles as we wrapped up on our time in Eureka, Missouri.  It was at least warm there, but it rained for almost 10 days straight. The banks of the Fox Creek, which runs on the South side of the KOA, was just a trickle when we got there on March 17th. When we left it was a fast-moving stream barely contained within its banks.  Fortunately, most of the rain continued in a steady pace and there was no huge downpours.  We discovered Gooey Butter Cakes in this area and brought home a couple for Easter dinner with the family.

From Eureka we headed up to Yellow Banks Campground (a county park) outside of Des Moines, Iowa. We wanted to check out a Hymer Aktiv class B camper van a dealer had in stock there.  We’re the Russo’s are a couple we have followed since they began their journey and they are promoting the Aktiv unit and the lifestyle.  We found though that was not our taste and had some issues with space design. It was great though we got a chance to check it out in person. We had actually found a used Aktiv and put money down on it to hold it, from this walk through we let that unit go.

Then, we however have now fallen in love with the Winnebago Era 170X after watching reviews by The Fit RV. and are now on the hunt for the right deal for one of those.  The 170X is far more practical for day use. It has three distinct zones in 21 feet. Up front it has a spot where we can remove extra chairs for Jason to build out a smaller office space.  North of Des Moines we toured the various floor plans of the Era. This was a great opportunity to spend a couple of hours going through the details of envisioning life in this small space.

2015 Winnebago 170X Floorplan

We have found that the overcrowding of campgrounds is becoming a problem with a big rig.  It used to be first come first serve sites at most parks.  Now you really need to plan out the weekends at least weeks in advance, or at least plan to dry camp on Friday and Saturday night outside of the confines of a campground.  We hope that we can be more nimble in a camper van since it can park in a regular parking space.  The 170X units were very spacious and still has “zones” for us to separate during the day.

Subscribe for updates to the blog! However, we won’t be doing so many until we leave River Falls again in June. Until June we will just be laying low, Jason working on site at the University, working on projects at church and reconnecting and exploring new things in the Northwest Wisconsin area.

CampgroundSt. Louis West / Historic Route 66 KOA
18475 Old US Hwy 66
Eureka, MO 63025

Info: 636-257-3018

Located Southwest of St. Louis on the historic route 66 route between Eureka and Pacific, Missouri. You can at times hear the highway noise and the trains can be as frequent as every five minutes. At least the trains doing whistle, but you will hear the train whistle from the Six Flags. The pool looks nice, but was not open when here. There is even a caboose to rent as a cabin! Cable TV available in park and decent WiFi.
Nights Stayed13: March 17-30, 2018
Parking SiteSite A13 W/E/S CATV
RestaurantsSuper Smokers BBQ- located on the frontage road between Six Flags and highway 109, between the two exists to the NE on the North side of the road. Pretty much everything has been good. The turkey was excellent and the pulled pork has been consistent. Barb loves the peppery creamed corn. The Cherry Cobbler was not very good, but the Bread Pudding was excellent.

China King - located west of Walmart in the the same plaza. Excellent pork fried rice, szechuan beef and pineapple chicken. The cream cheese wontons were absolutely decadent.

Michelle's Cafe - located South of the highway on the highway 109 exit, NE of the park on the next exit. We were there for a brunch and were the only people there. Service was friendly but not too efficient given we were the only couple there. The Three Amigos Tacos (breakfast version) and the Pear & Blue Cheese Salad were both very good. Worth checking out for any meal of the day, they must do more breakfast business on the weekends because there were some options not available on a weekday when we were there.
AttractionsSix Flags is on the exit and there is this KOA as well as a Jellystone on the exit. Six Flags opens March 24th this year and from what we understand it overwhelms these two campgrounds in the peak season. So keep this in mind for summer weekends.

World Bird Sanctuary - with dozens of varieties of birds needing rehabilitation and protection after their accidents. Visited during their community event celebrating World Eagle day celebration.

St. Louis County Lone Elk Park - is a little gem hiding in the woods just off of the highway. The "lone elk" is part of the history, there are dozen of elk and bison visible along the drive through area. There is an observation tower to view the wildlife over the lake. Once a WWII artifact now a great wildlife area to check out with the bird sanctuary.
WELS Churches
Remember for Next TimeMy Vet Animal Clinic 13 E 2nd St, Eureka, MO 63025, located in Eureka on the South side of the highway on the highway 109 exit NE of us. They carry the Science Diet prescription pet food. Extremely friendly and helpful.

Byerly RV - has a large and well stocked parts and accessory department. Located just one exit NE of the KOA. Travelers RV is much closer but has nothing really in their store. The two times I stopped there for parts I had to continue on to Byerly to get it.
AT&T Coverage4G LTE is excellent, low latency, very few outages or slow ups
Verizon Coverage4G LTE good
WiFi CoverageThe campground WiFi works really well. Barb has used it on her phone most of the week and we are using our TP Link external WiFi unit pointed at the Kabin that has the access point on it. For the most part it has worked extremely well except for the peak evening times it was a little slow during the week.
Anytime FitnessAnytime Fitness in Wildwood, MO, Northeast of the KOA about 15 minutes.
Mail ServicesCan receive packages at main address.
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