July 23-25, 2017, Sarcoxie, MO-
My summer’s journey is winding down, with one last family visit, before I am back in the Southwest. I chose Ferne Clyffe State Park, in southwest Illinois, for the night’s stay, after Paducah. I could have stayed at a campground in Kentucky, but the urge for closing the gap won out, and I moved along, to the precincts of Dixie National Forest. Ferne Clyffe’s fee collector was gone home, by the time I arrived, but other campers assured me he’d be there, bright and early, Monday morning.
I had a nice night, sleeping under the stars, with few insect problems. This was the scene, as I waited for Chief Ranger to arrive, for my payment.
I then got on the road, looking for a little cafe, at which I might grab some breakfast. It turns out the the local farmers all eat at home, so the nearest spot was the Nu Diner, in Cairo- about twenty miles to the southwest. I’ve been to Cairo, six years ago, and made a more extensive visit to the town, at the time. Despite its location, at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, Cairo is fading, and the mayor, popping into Nu Diner, to greet his constituents, had few words of encouragement, at this point in time. He knows what everyone else knows: Jobs aren’t coming back, anytime soon. I like the little town, and hope that hydroelectric, or some new technology, can keep it going. Cairo is not in the middle of nowhere- Paducah and Sikeston are each a half-hour away, in opposite directions. (The waitress at Nu Diner allowed as how she finds going to Paducah a headache. I guess it’s all in how one looks at matters. Then again, I was there on Sunday evening, so I can’t speak about workaday traffic.)
Speaking of Sikeston, the bustling little city, at the top of Missouri’s Boot Heel, has Lambert’s Cafe (Huge, but sorry, I’m still full from a Nu Diner breakfast) and Jerry James Melon Stand, with huge watermelons to be enjoyed. I picked one up, for Cousin Lisa and her husband, Curt.
Driving across southern Missouri, I opted for state highways, and experienced a bit of what the locals are enduring, with ‘slow or no’ wireless fidelity, from Poplar Bluff to very near Springfield, nearly 200 miles. This, to me, is a sign of things to come, should Net Neutrality be removed, and Internet Service Providers be allowed to charge extra for service that is now fairly standard, in much of the country.
I got into Sarcoxie, close to where Lisa and Curt live, around 4:30, catching a decent dinner at Hungry House, right off the freeway. Then it was setting up camp at Beagle Bay Campground, on the other side of I-44. The owner was a bit flinty-eyed, and looked at me with suspicion for a few minutes, before her husband came in and said I could use one of the “primitive” camp sites (as tent sites are known, in these parts). There isn’t much primitive, about Beagle Bay. There are showers, a game room and a stocked fishing pond. I carefully set up camp, and repaired to the game room, to hook up my lap top and catch up on e-mail and other doings.
This morning (Tuesday), I checked out some of the campground’s features. An old atrium has been preserved, just east of the main campground.
The family that camped next to me headed for the fish pond, early on, and I followed suit, though skirting their fishing stand, and taking in a few scenes of the pond itself.
I connected with Lisa, who expressed frustration at, TA-DA, her phone being out of order. Now it was back in service, and we met at Hungry House for breakfast and catching-up on Boivin family happenings.
I like having family here and there, in various parts of the country, and it’ll be all the more enjoyable, over the next few years, as I head back and forth, in summer. Then again, I’m hardly ever isolated, with a network of reliable friends. So, I think I will see what southern Kansas has to offer, before dropping down to Enid, and looking in on an old friend.
NEXT: Baxter Springs and Sedan