Update on that Wind and Water Business

This is the screenshot I sent Melanie and Doug last night while Tracy and I were driving east through the top of Missouri.

I thought we were headed to that red star just out of the severe weather zones, but I wasn’t quite sure. You see, Tracy was blaring The Von Bondie on the truck stereo (we’re on bands that start with V); we’d stopped at a brewery near Kansas City to say hi to Tracy’s cousin; and we were hauling ass to get to a conservation area before dark so we could see if the gravel pull-off on the map would be dry and flat enough for the trailer for a couple of nights.

In other words, we had a lot going on at once, and I can’t be blamed for the minor freak-out that caused me to text friends for help interpreting the danged weather map.

Just before this, we’d had two days of loveliness near St. Joseph, where we stayed in the unremarkable Lewis and Clark State Park and hung out with a positively remarkable buddy of Tracy’s from high school, Tom, as we did a few years ago.

At this park, though, I could tell from the design and positioning of the shelters that it’s all about storms here. The picnic shelters weren’t positioned according to each campsite; they were all in a row according to the predominant wind patterns. Gulp.

So, Tracy worked on the kayak rack a few more times to secure it against the wind and we took off a few days early to get east of oncoming storms. What we didn’t anticipate was how much we’d enjoy hanging out with Tracy’s cousin at a brewery in Kansas City on the way, then how much road construction would delay us as we pushed ahead of the storm.

Finally, after the punk music and frantic weather-chart watching and driving down long, gravel roads between farms, we found our spot on the map to pull off, at a wildlife conservation area along the Missouri River.

This dark tree was a sight for sore eyes because of the tell-tale picnic table under it. The area is open to hunting right now, but camping is also allowed (at least, guys in state trucks have driven by several times and not knocked on the door), so we’re here for the duration of these storms.

And when I say “storms” I really mean it. Banjo’s been crouched in the corner by Tracy’s side of the bed all night, and Tracy and I both reflexively checked the severe weather map each time we woke.


I guess it’s no surprise that we made it! The kayaks are still on the truck, and I believe the trailer sustained zero damage from hail. We even hiked the area and learned that the newly plowed fields around us are planted by the conservation team to provide high-energy food for migratory water fowl.

I stomped around in the reeds by the Missouri River enough to scare away all the animals, but I saw evidence of many critters in hiding.

The big excitement came when I spotted a flock of American White Pelicans over the oxbow. I knew immediately that’s what they were because I had a flashback to my moment of enlightenment this past fall in Arkansas while kayaking the largest oxbow of the Mississippi.

My good griefus what a glorious bird to see floating on the currents as a flock, with their black undersides flashing as they turn, then their white tops showing, like pieces flipping on an Othello board.

We have one more night here among the fields, and then we decide what to do about all the cold weather hitting Iowa, our next destination. Not that we can change the weather, but we can change our travel plans. Maybe this time without punk on the radio.

P.S.: Don’t worry; I have exaggerated about our travel day a tad here. We had planned on the beers and the time with Tracy’s cousin; Tracy had carefully planned for us to head away from bad weather; and we had a state park as a backup in case the conservation area wasn’t suitable. I should not check weather models incessantly as we drive!

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