If it’s June, it must be time to head back out to Iowa to reunite with my old camping buddies at the Midwest T@B Rally at Rock Creek State Park near Grinnell, IA. Since selling my T@B in 2011, I think I’ve brought a different RV every time I’ve attended!
Last year, it was the “Lynnebago” Sprinter Van (enjoying it’s one and only campout before being returned to cargo hauling duties as the family moving van). This year, I brought my J-model Winnie on it’s own (without towing the Tracker, I was able to get a wonderful 16 MPG!).
I’m happy to report that the new, smaller Sea Eagle FastTrack kayak fit easily into the rear cargo hatch of the Winnie. The new Tern folding bike was a tad too big for the cargo bay, but it fit nicely behind the passenger seat (without blocking access to the coach door or center aisle).
Our first morning was calm and peaceful—a perfect day to kayak!
I headed out with Kelly and Julia to the nature area north of the bridge.
Unfortunately, the water levels were lower than last year and we weren’t able to make it all the way up into the prime wildlife habitat, but we still managed to see a few deer, heron, and swallows.
In the afternoon, Millie was delighted to get her first daily swim at the boat ramp--
and then got to take her first ride in the new FastTrack when we paddled the main part of the lake with David and Kathy.
While the FastTrack’s tee-tiny side tubes in the front made me worry that Millie would easily jump out for a swim, she thankfully stayed in the boat and behaved herself!
Meanwhile, Kathy was doing a fine job paddling her new Sea Eagle 330 kayak for the first time.
In the evenings, the group converged around the campfire for lively conversation and to admire our pampered pooches! The newest “center of attention” was Jim’s dog, Gracie. What a hoot!
Millie and Max also did their best to vie for attention too..
After my Saturday morning bike ride, I decided to try out my new “multi-functional” grill setup for lunch. I had enjoyed my Coleman LP Grill down in Mexico this past winter, but it really just did one single thing (grill) and since I don’t eat meat, it didn’t get used that much.
So, while recently cleaning out my garage, I came across the Camp Chef 2-burner LP stove I had bought for last year’s Rock Creek rally and decided to try it out as “convertible” grill with the addition of my new Lodge cast iron reversible griddle/grill, and use my favorite 11” T-fal Wok pan as a grilltop “cover”. It worked great! My quinoa burger and bread slices got much more evenly cooked (with nice char lines as well!).
The 2-burner stove is actually not much bigger than the Coleman Grill—it’s able to stow away up on it’s side in the Winnie’s rear cargo bay, so it’s “footprint” is actually a wee bit smaller! I think I’ll enjoy the versatility of this set up much more—I can use the stove as a backup to my Winnie stove to cook outside, or use the Lodge griddle/grill inside on the Winnie’s stove for pancakes, rainy day grilling, etc. It also makes me feel less guilty about replacing my shallower skillet with this bigger wok pan for every day use.
Saturday evening was the traditional rally potluck dinner. True to form, the T@Bbers went all out including these creative mini meatloaf “cupcakes” topped with mashed potato “frosting”!
As night descended, Jay brought out his red EL light T@B sign to liven up the party!
The whole crowd cleaned up nicely for our group rally photo! Thanks for the great weekend!
On my way back to Chicago, I stopped in Davenport to have lunch with my friend Judi (who has now retired from camping). We had a great organic lunch at Fresh Deli downtown along the banks of the Mississippi river. It was wonderful to see her again to catch up, enjoy the riverfront, and break up the long drive home.
All in all, a fun break from my summer “house work!”