Cooper Creek is our go-to campground. It’s in Branson, Missouri, and it’s right off an arm of Lake Taneycomo. We like this campground because it’s not widely known, the people who run it are pretty great, and the air coming off the lake is really nice and cool making it an ideal place to hangout in the dead of summer.
It’s also cheap. Compared to most places nowadays.
The campground also has cabins so if/when we can get the boys to come with us, they can stay in the cabin and we’ll stay in our trailer. I’m really excited about this – we can grill food, fish, or in my case, hang out near the water and read, toast marshmallows, watch movies … we used to go camping quite a bit when the boys were little. We started with a pop-up camper and wore that thing out, then graduated to a Hybrid camper shell – the tent beds folded out on either side. It was a cute, comfortable camper but it leaked and waterproofing the canvas was a full-time job and every time it rained, it would stress me out because I didn’t want it to leak on us while we were sleeping.
I’m proud to say that as of now, the trailer has not leaked, not once. Really happy about that.
But it is heavy. We haven’t actually gotten around to weighing it yet, but Kevin thinks it’s likely around 4,000 to 4,500 pounds. So owning a truck that is big and tough enough to handle it has been a challenge.
I took a long weekend off in April and we headed to Cooper Creek. Another reason we like that campground is because it’s so close, only about 45 minutes from our house. So we feel like we’ve gotten away but we’re not far enough away that we couldn’t run home if we needed to.
April 17th started my mini-vacation and I spent the day running errands and getting the trailer ready. I have to admit, I HATE packing. I would much rather unpack and clean up than pack. I think it’s primarily because I’m so focused on making sure we don’t forget anything that I overthink everything. Though I do have a master list and it’s not as much work as it used to be since we keep the majority of our stuff in the trailer, I still have to think about clothes, health and beauty aids, food, entertainment and of course, having enough water on hand for both coffee and drinking. It doesn’t sound like much but it typically takes me about an hour to fully pack and that’s IF I don’t have any interruptions because I have learned that if I get interrupted while packing we inevitably forget something.
Which is not that big of a deal when there’s a Walmart on every corner, but it’s becoming a running joke that we end up going to Walmart at least once every trip so it would be nice to get to the point where we don’t have to go to Walmart.
Thursdays are Kevin’s busiest day. He does payroll for a client and they don’t usually get their information to him until late in the day so we have to plan our vacations around this time period so Kevin can take care of them. It’s annoying and super inconvenient but they pay well and their employees need to be paid so we make it work.
He worked most of Thursday and I ended up picking up some dinner at about 4:30 and we got on the road about 5:00 PM. We got a call from the campground letting us know that we would be checking in after the office closed so they would leave an envelope for us on the office door with the bathroom keys.
We had plenty of daylight left and the day was gorgeous – nary a cloud in the sky. Kevin was driving his Ford 150 and things were going great … until we hit the hills of Branson.
If you’ve never been to Branson Missouri, there is a strip, the main strip, called 76. It’s quite similar to the main strip in Las Vegas – everything is located on that strip. So, traffic is always backed up and if you happen to stop on a hill, well, you sort of hold your breath when it’s time to go again hoping your car doesn’t roll back into the car behind you.
I think you might see where I’m going with this.
We make it to Branson, we’re on the strip and we get stuck at a stoplight, on a hill. The truck starts making some weird noises, like it’s not idling fast enough and wants to die. It also sounds rough, like a diesel engine – Kevin’s truck wasn’t a diesel.
It dies on a steep hill. And we’re towing a 4,500 ton cargo trailer behind us. And the traffic is bumper to bumper.
To say I hyperventilated would be putting it mildly. It absolutely freaked me out. I said a prayer, (or ten), and luckily, the truck started right back up when the light turned green. It would start okay, it just wouldn’t stay running and Kevin had to continually gun it to keep it from dying. I’m happy to report there were no mishaps but it was a nail biter for a bit. We weren’t out of the woods yet. We still had a ways to drive to get to the campground but the traffic wasn’t as heavy and though it was still stressful, I didn’t feel like I was having a heart attack. We made it to the campground in one piece but I no longer trusted the truck to get us from point A to point B. Kevin said it acted like that a few times for him while not towing the trailer and he thinks it gets too hot and starts blahblahblah – I won’t pretend to know what he was talking about – I just knew, we were going to have to get a new truck before I would agree to go camping again. That was too stressful.
It rained pretty much the whole next day but we were prepared for that. Here’s the thing – there is never a great time to go camping. Sure. You could wait until the summer months when it’s less likely to rain but then you have to deal with the heat and the humidity and quite honestly, I’m finding that I prefer to camp in the Spring and Fall when it’s rainy and a little cold – it’s more comfortable for me personally. So, when it rains, it really doesn’t bother me. We just stick around the camper and read, play games or watch a movie. And that’s what we did this go around. Camping is good for Kevin because it FORCES him to slow down – he’s one of those go-go-go personalities and he doesn’t slow down unless he doesn’t have a choice – he doesn’t have a choice when we’re camping and it’s raining. So, he pulled out his PS game thingie and played Ace Combat for a while.
I worked on my homework. Yep – I did homework. You can read about my class here. I’m finished with it now and I’ll write more about that soon.
We ventured out for dinner and ate at the Mexican Kitchen – which is awesome. Kevin says they have the best refried beans he’s ever tasted – they taste smoky. We then got back to the camper and watched “Dallas Buyer’s Club” and “The Princess Bride”, which I confess, I have never watched in it’s entirety. Kevin wanted to watch “Dallas Buyer’s Club” because its mirrors what happened with COVID – the government wouldn’t allow people with AIDS to take alternative medication and the medication that was “approved” was actually making people sicker and killing them. So, Matthew McConaughey’s character took matters into his own hands and started a buyer’s club where people could become a “member” and get the drugs they needed to manage the disease. This is quite similar to what happened with COVID – there were alternative treatments out there but the government demonized the options and the “approved” treatments that people received in the hospital were ineffective and ultimately killed a lot of people. This is our personal opinion but mark my words, it will show this when we look back on this period in the history books.
But I digress.
We went to bed late and we knew there would be more storms but whatever, we’re in a metal box, it’s pretty sturdy, doesn’t leak and we would be fine.
It stormed. Big time.
Our mini-split runs all the time. And though it’s pitch black in the trailer, there are various pinpoints of light coming from electronics, etc. So, there is constant noise, which is good for sleeping, and there is just enough light to see shapes, etc.
So, when the mini-split stopped working, it woke me up. I’m a light sleeper anyway so to be fair, it doesn’t take much to wake me up, but when I woke up, it was pitch black. No pinpoints of light. It was dark and very, very quiet.
What the hell?
The electricity had gone out. I was annoyed more than anything at first but I wasn’t panicking. Sure enough, it came back on, lasted about two minutes, then went out again. This time, Kevin work up. We laid there for a bit and it came back on again. Kevin got up to see what was going on and when he opened the door, the lights went out again. And this time, they stayed off.
The campground is next to the arm of Lake Taneycomo, as I mentioned, but on the other side of the lake, there is a hill. And on top of this hill are houses. So at night, you can see the lights from these houses lining the top of the hill. When the lights went out a third time, Kevin had the door open and he saw the lights on the hill go black. I was a little relieved to know this because at first I thought it was just the campground and I was thinking, how are we going to contact the park owners to let them know the electricity was out? Since the houses on the hill went black, this was a much bigger outage – it wasn’t just us.
But it was spooky. The place was BLACK. You could hardly see anything and since we were camping in the “off season”, there wasn’t that many people in the park to begin with so it felt very isolating and spooky. There was a lot of lightening though so it wasn’t surprising that we lost power. But we got to talking – what if that had been an EMP, (electromagnetic pulse) attack? What would we do? The boys knew where we were but if it was a true EMP attack, our cell phones wouldn’t work, our truck wouldn’t work, (because it’s mostly computerized) and even if it worked, we didn’t have enough gas to get home.
And we had very little food in the trailer. We stopped talking about it because it was scaring us and we went back to bed. I don’t feel like I got much sleep after that but I must have dozed off because the mini-split came back on about 4:00 AM and jerked me awake.
Thank God the power came back on.
But it got us to talking about it over coffee the next morning and it made us realize, you just never know what is going to happen in this crazy world – especially right now with Russia acting unpredictable and putting everyone on edge. It makes you realize how much you take for granted and how much we rely on technology, and the internet, to live our lives every day. What would happen if it all suddenly went away? Not just the physical inconvenience but how would people react? I would like to say we would come together, work together and get through it but let’s be real – it would be hell on earth and I’m picturing a Mad Max world – every man/woman for him/herself.
You better have some weapons nearby – just saying.
Anyway. The next day was gorgeous and it more than made up for an uncomfortable and scary night. I finished my weekly quiz and after that, we walked to the camp office and bought a magnet, (we’re collecting magnets from places we’re camping to put on our fridge), and then we walked about 2.5 miles around Table Rock Dam and worked up an appetite for dinner. We tried to go to Uptown Café, a 50’s-style café, but they had a tour bus and were super busy so we ended up going to Culverts. (Those butter burgers are ‘da bomb). We watched “The Poseidon Adventure” and went to bed.
*Spoiler alert – it was bad – like REALLY bad.
By the way, neither of us watches TV or movies so camping is the only time we really watch movies together. Again, it forces Kevin to slow down. Which he will only do if he doesn’t have a choice.
We overslept the next morning. We got up at 9:00 and had to scramble to get packed up and out by check out time at 11:00. It’s so easy to sleep in the trailer because it’s so dark and with the fan and the mini-split going, it gives just enough background noise that we don’t hear a lot of what’s going on outside.
Kevin’s truck started acting up again as we got closer to home and I spent the majority of the trip home convincing him that he needed to buy a newer, bigger truck. I know trucks are insanely expensive but he’s gone through two trucks in the past three years and it was time to upgrade and buy something that he wouldn’t have to stress over.
I planted the seed, at least.
When we went to meet the boys for Brandon’s birthday, LeRoy saw some trucks at a dealership on the way. He talked Kevin into looking at them a few days later and they just so happened to have a 2018 Dodge Ram Longhorn that just came in. They hadn’t even had a chance to clean it before Kevin looked at it and took it for a test drive. He liked it and it only had 27,000 miles on it – so, virtually brand new. And it was in excellent condition and came with all the bells and whistles – heated seats, a heated steering wheel (!!), a sunroof. Really nice. He text me a picture and I encouraged him to buy it. Yes. It was expensive. No. I won’t tell you how much. But Kevin has worked so hard all of his life, he deserves a fancy truck that he won’t have to stress about fixing any time soon.
He bought it.
And that’s the story of how we came to buy ANOTHER truck. I’m excited to see how it does on our next glamping trip.
Which we just back from and I’ll write about soon.
Thanks for reading.
Get out and live life, folks!