Monday, November 28, 2016


Leaving Nashville I drove to East Lansing, MI home of Michigan State University where I went to college.  Every football season three college buddies and I return to attend a game and have a mini-reunion.  This year one buddy, Gary, was recovering from a heart bypass operation so he couldn't attend.  A second buddy, Scott had flown up from Michigan two weeks previously to be around for Gary's operation so he was unable to fly back up so this reunion was my friend Steve and I.

Steve and I attending one of many tailgates prior to the game.
We usually try to pick a game that will be meaningful and this year we picked the University of Michigan vs. MSU game although by the time the game rolled around in late October MSU had lost a number of tough games and U of M was undefeated so we went into the stadium somewhat prepared for the worst.

Steve has really excellent 50 yard line seats.
In the end Michigan State played a very competitive game against our arch-rivals but ended up losing 32-23.  Thankfully the weather for the game was mild by late-October Michigan standards and Steve and I had a blast cheering the Spartans on.  Since Steve had provided me with such a great seat to the game I made a small donation to his Spartan basement at his home where he has tons of memorable Spartan items hanging on the wall.

An original Zeke the Wonder Dog promo Frisbee!
The Frisbee back story:  When he was a student in the early 70's (yeah we're that old) Gary owned a blonde lab named Zeke.  Zeke loved catching Frisbees Gary would throw him. Gary and Zeke's Frisbee act became somewhat of a fixture on campus and Gary was eventually asked to throw Frisbees to Zeke as a part of the MSU half time shows.  Gary and Zeke continued to perform at the half time shows even after Gary (finally) graduated and up to when Zeke got too old and was unable to perform.  Gary had a bunch of the promotional Frisbees like the one above I gave Steve but very few remain given the fact that was over 40 years ago.  I never used the Frisbee so it's in "mint" condition and I'm sure Steve will find a place of prominence in his MSU basement.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Old Friends

I finally made it to Nashville and got a chance to visit Beth, an old friend from high school whom I hadn't seen in years.  She is part of the committee organizing our class reunion next year and, upon learning of my meanderings, had invited me to visit her in Nashville if I ever passed through.  I already was planning on doing that on my way to Michigan for my annual meet-up at Michigan State University with my three college buddies so plans were made.

Beth and I on Broadway Street
Beth has an almost Better Homes & Garden home in a Del Webb community 15 miles east of Nashville and she was kind enough to let me park the Tank in her driveway during my visit.  Being a great hostess not only did she show me around Nashville including Broadway Street which is Nashville's 6th Street if you've ever been to Austin but she also cooked my favorite meal of all time:

Pot roast, asparagus, little potatoes and carrots!
It was the best pot roast I've ever had!  Later, not to be outdone, I grilled steaks and they came out close to perfect.

Needless to say I had to go on a pretty restricted diet after I left Beth's place in Nashville and headed up towards Michigan.  Nashville is a really fun town to visit and if you've never been there I can't recommend it enough.  I know I plan to revisit it in the future!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Campground Review: Kingman State Lake Fishing Area Kingman, KS

The state of Kansas has set up a number of state fishing areas across the state and you can camp for free at most of them for up to a week. I targeted the Kingman State Lake area for a couple day stay in my continuing movement towards Nashville where I had plans to meet up with an old high school friend.

The fishing area is about 10 miles west of Kingman, KS
The lake comprises 144 acres of water and has a maximum depth of 11 feet.  Among fish species anglers fish for are catfish, large mouth bass, northern pike, and bluegill.  A Kansas fishing license is required to fish in the lake.

Kingman State Lake
There were about 8 or 9 campsites along the east side of the road and while there was a pretty good local day use fishing representation during the day I had my choice of spots as I was the only camper there during my two day stay.

The Tank's site along Kingman Lake shore.
Here's the Kingman State Lake data sheet:

Hookups:                                                         None                                                              
Fire ring:                                                          Yes                                                                 
Water Access:                                                 Yes                                                                 
Fresh Water:                                                    No                                                      
Trash Service:                                                  No                                                      
Toilets:                                                            Yes (vault)                                                     
Showers:                                                         No                                                                  
Dump station:                                                  No                                                      
WiFi:                                                               No                                                      
Level sites:                                                      Yes                                         
Laundry:                                                          No                                                      
Store:                                                              No                                                                  
Pool:                                                               No                                          
Shade:                                                            Yes                                         
Verizon reception:                                            4G, 3 bars                                                       
Internet reception:                                            3 bars                                      
Cost:                                                              Free for up to 7 nights

There is mild road noise at the camping areas at Kingman State Lake due to it being only a mile or so north of Kansas State HWY 400 but I didn't find it too intrusive.  There is a boat ramp where several locals launched fishing boats onto the lake and there are also a number of floating piers that allow the "boatless" to fish the lake.

Boat ramp and fishing pier at Kingman Lake
Out on one of my walks I came across some rental log cabins that were for rent although I couldn't find any information regarding rental costs at the cabins themselves or online at the Lake's website.

One of the rental cabins at Kingman State Lake
From talking to some of the local folks i learned that Kingman State Fishing Lake is one of the better equipped state fishing lakes in Kansas and it showed with the brand new vault toilets and new rental cabins.  I liked the camping experience at Kingman State Fishing Lake and can fully recommend it.  If I hadn't been on a schedule to get to Nashville I would have surely extended my stay.  I now have another favorite spot to stay over on my east-west meanderings.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Campground Review: Pittsburg Park Pittsburg, MO

I hadn't originally planned on camping at the Army Corps of Engineering's Pittsburg Park it ended up being a "Plan B" after my intent to camp at the city park in the nearby town of Weaubleau City.  I've found that sometimes cities change their camping policy at their city parks and, as in the case of tiny Weaubleau City, no one corrects the website info so people like me don't get "the Word" until you actually physically visit and evaluate the site.  So after a city employee at Weaubleau City broke the news that camping wasn't allowed in their park to me I hurriedly found the listing for Pittsburg Park and drove the half hour east to get to it.

Pom de Terre is French and means "Earth Apple" or potato in English. 
The Corps of Engineers constructed the park on the southern shore of Pom de Terre Lake on a circular peninsula that extends out into the lake.  There is another portion of the park called the Hermitage which lies on the north shore of the lake.  The lake is a part of a chain of lakes set up by the Corps as flood control for the central-southwest Missouri area.  As I drove around the park's loop upon getting there I noticed that most of the campsites were on uneven ground that slanted somewhat sharply towards the lake.  On my initial pass-thru I identified a single level campsite that was the unoccupied camp host's site (this was in mid-October, the camp host probably left in September) so I gratefully occupied the one level site I found in the entire park.  There were full hookups at the site but both the electricity and water had been shut-off but it was relatively open to the sun so the Tank's solar setup could supply the power and it's fresh water tank was full. 

The Tank poaching the camp-host site.
Here's the Pittsburg Park data sheet:

Hookups:                                                         None                                                              
Fire ring:                                                          Yes                                                                 
Water Access:                                                 Yes                                                     
Fresh Water:                                                    Yes (shut off Oct-Spring)                              
Trash Service:                                                  Yes                                         
Toilets:                                                            Yes (vault)                                         
Showers:                                                         No                                                      
Dump station:                                                  No                                          
WiFi:                                                               No                                          
Level sites:                                                      No                                          
Laundry:                                                          No                                                      
Store:                                                              No                                                                  
Pool:                                                               No                                                                  
Shade:                                                            No                                                      
Verizon reception:                                            4G, 3 bars                                           
Internet reception:                                            3 bars                          
Cost:                                                              Free up to 14 days

Geese resting on the lake shore before continuing south for the winter.
 I enjoyed the quiet at Pittsburg Park so much I extended my stay there for three days from my originally planned overnight.  During the three days it was obvious by the boat launch traffic Pom de Terre Lake is a very popular fishing spot with the local population.  I spoke to one of the fisherman and he said the lake is pretty famous for muskie fishing and to a lesser extent large mouth bass fishing.

Fishing pier on Pom de Terre Lake.
Army Corps of Engineer parks are always well kept and typically the campsites within them are clearly marked out and leveled.  Pittsburg Park is an exception to the "level" part and some rigs might have trouble getting level enough that the refrigerator operates efficiently (I can notice the Tank's fridge laboring if the Tank is even a few degrees off level) but if level sites aren't a big deal the fishing and water sports presented justify a stay there.

Thanks for reading!