JOHNSON LAKE, NEBRASKA WILSON LAKE, KANSAS – We hopped out of bed this morning to get an early start on our way to our destination in Johnson Lake, Nebraska. Way back (wayyyyyyyyy back) when I was planning this vacation I knew I’d just as soon not see all the same scenery on I-70 through Kansas as we saw on the way out to Colorado, so I planned to head north through Nebraska to get back into Missouri.
That was before Mother Nature and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decided to fuck with me.
So as we were driving through Denver we were trying to figure out whether we had any hope of crossing the Missouri River from Nebraska into Iowa or Missouri.
Turns out the answer was pretty much ‘NO, STUPID, YOU CAN’T GET THERE FROM HERE.’
The most favored detour would have required us to drive through Nebraska and then take a highway south to I-70 in Kansas anyway, putting us about an hour behind schedule, plus the other hour that we’d be behind by virtue of detouring through Nebraska anyway.
So somewhere on a strip mall parking lot off I-76 in Denver, we pulled off and made a decision to go back through Kansas and…
…try to find a campsite somewhere in Kansas without a reservation, even though it meant losing a night’s camping fees in Nebraska.
I know all of you who know me and my penchant for planning just uttered a collective gasp. Don’t lie. I could hear it.
I was feeling reckless, though, and so I was surprisingly okay with it. Away we rolled toward Kansas.
And we rolled. And we rolled. For about 400 miles we crossed beautiful eastern Colorado and western Kansas until we ended up at Wilson Lake.
I couldn’t just let fate take over completely so of course I was on my phone and the computer as we traveled looking for a federal campground or, in lieu thereof, a state campground. We like those the best. RV Parks are out of necessity only. It was too late to reserve anywhere but it was a Thursday night so we hoped we’d find something. I had my eye on the campgrounds at Wilson Lake. There are about four or five big campgrounds there. Surely, we thought, surely one of them will have a space.
Not only did I have a particular campground in mind. I had also scoped out a particular site with a couple of alternates if it was taken. Old habits die hard.
The one I wanted had a playground RIGHT NEXT DOOR.
You understand why I did this, right?
Sure enough, we got to the campground and almost had our pick of sites. I got my second-favorite one so I was happy enough, and as you can see it was still just a stone’s throw from the playground.
I reminded Greg how lucky he is to have a wife so adept at finding good campsites. I mean, look at it. It’s the middle of Kansas and it’s a beautiful, gorgeous campground. Will we be back there? Hell yes, the next time we’re going through there and need a place to rest our bones, we will not hesitate to stop there. It’s about 8 hours from home, and that’s always a good time to stop.
Ethan got his bike out and entertained himself.
Laurel took a shower and left our soap and her shampoo in there, and it got stolen.
We met a fellow who was quite possibly the most interesting of the trip. More on him later.