Day 5-3 Travel as I Have Envisioned It Could Be!
Lions Club, that is.
After our experience at the Center of the United States, we concentrated on covering distance. Our goal was to get close enough to Colorado so that we would have only about six hours of driving to go through Denver, over the highest elevations of the Rockies, and into Grand Junction. Based on our planning, we could stop in Kansas with 60 miles left to the Colorado state line.
Hunger and fatigue began to set in as we approached the town of Atwood, Kansas. We were going to look for a spot to pull off and rest. Moving along at the reduced speed limit in Atwood, we saw signs indicating a park and a rest area just off of the main road. Following the signs led to a very nice park area. One of the first things we noticed was that there were camping sites with water and electric services. We decided to find out more.
A quick check of the map showed that we could stay in Atwood, and if we got an early start, make Grand Junction in a reasonable time. As we stretched our legs and looked around the park, we met a resident walking around the lake. She told us that we could talk to someone at the liquor store on the main street (Hwy 36) to arrange for a camping site.
We walked the short block to Rt 36, but the liquor store on the corner was definitely closed. This was Sunday. Looking across the street was a convenience store. We crossed the highway, no signal lights, no traffic and asked the lady behind the counter if we could register for one of the camp sites at the Lake. She said she couldn’t help us but we should ask Larry at the Liquor store. We told her the Liquor store looked closed and she said, “Oh, you can find him at the gas station and if he’s not there, check the liquor store next door.” So out we go, we look to the left and to the right. There is a liquor store on both corners and one just beyond the gas station down the street. We walk to the gas station and in the front door to a very small grocery and soft drink area, where an elderly gentleman stood behind the counter very busily acting as cashier.
“Howdy and may I help you?
“Yes sir,” Peggy asked, “we are looking for Larry.”
“Well, Larry may be down at the liquor store.” Turning away he said, “Hey Joe, have you seen Larry?”
He paused, and Peggy continued, “We are interested in getting a campsite in the park by the lake.”
“Oh, well you don’t need Larry,” he said, pulling a cash box from under the counter, “I can help you. What site do you want?”
“Well, we are parked in front of ten.”
“You don’t want 10. But you’ve got the whole park. No one else is there.”
“OK,” she said, “you pick us a site. We have an 18 ½-ft trailer.”
“Here, put it in site nine. Electric, water, sewer, wifi, $25. No credit cards, cash or check. All proceeds go directly to the Lions Club. Here is your key to unlock the electric box. My name is Bill. Drop the key off in the morning when you leave. He was very polite, but he said most of that in one breath.
“Mr. Bill,” Peggy asked, “is this a pretty safe place to camp?”
Smiling, he said, “You got no worries here, yes, you are very safe.”
Officially registered, we walked back to the park, backed the trailer into position and hooked up. As we were finishing the hookup, a gentleman from the Lions Club greeted us and wished us a good stay and if we had any problems to just let them know over at the Liquor store. He also accepted the key to return it to the store.
Fortunately, we had no problems. I say “fortunately” because we would not have known which liquor store to go to.
The camper area was well shaded, and we remained the only camper in the park. We had been told that the season would start in about two weeks, and the camp sites would then be full for the rest of the summer.
The next morning, after a really, good night’s sleep, I was up early to take some photos before we left. There were geese around the lake with a brood of half-grown goslings. I approached them, cautiously, for photos. As soon as I got too close, the adults rounded up the young ones and ushered them away from me.
One aspect of the park that puzzled us for a bit was the fluffy, cottony “stuff” that covered the ground like a light snow. My initial thought was that the geese in the park might be molting, but there should have been many more geese than we had seen. Then we realized that the predominant trees in the park were cottonwoods that had produced a bumper crop of cottony seed balls for which they are named. This was a first for Peggy as she could not remember ever having seen Cottonwoods.
We had breakfast across the street at the stop and go convenience store/place to eat. If you are ever in Atwood, it is the one gas station-convenience store with a military tank on the west side of the parking lot.
We were soon on our way westward which would prove to be the least favorite day of our trip.
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