Friday, September 23, 2005

Rend Lake, on the Big Muddy

We are at a Corps of Engineers campground on Rend Lake, an impoundment of the Big Muddy River (map). We are here principally because a group of people we have met on the internet have congregated here in a pre-rally for the upcoming Escapade rally in Du Quoin, about 20 miles west of here.

The group is the "Full-Timing Class of 2005," a loose-knit group that came together spontaneously in an on-line forum called RV.Net, a bulletin board that Louise visits regularly. The theme here is people who began full-timing this year, and we squeaked in even though, technically, we hit the road near the end of 2004. (There is no "Full-Timing Class of 2004," as far as we know.) The group organized around the concept of having a rally in Quartzsite, AZ in January of '06, and somewhere along the line, morphed into an Escapees Birds-of-a-Feather group.

We will be here through Sunday morning, when we will all move over to the fairgrounds in Du Quoin for the Escapade. This is actually a pretty nice spot, with well-separated, wooded sites equipped with 30-amp electric service -- handy, since we are still running at least one air conditioner pretty much around the clock.

We arrived here yesterday, and staked out a spot that the volunteer at the gate had told us was available for our entire stay. However, when we hoofed it back to the gate to pay, his computer would not let him book us into the site for more than one night. Apparently, the reservations system run by a contractor (in Canada, I'm told) has a few quirks. They were able to fix the problem today and we are good through Sunday.

After driving back through Cairo yesterday morning, we discovered that our planned route of US-51 would put us on the interstate, so we elected instead to continue up the Great River Road, Illinois 3, until we had to jog over to De Soto on IL-149 to pick up our waiting mail. We then continued on 149 to 37 into Benton to approach the lake from the east. The more direct route from the west comes in over the dam, and there is a ten-ton weight limit on the spillway bridge.

Tomorrow is the big pot-luck dinner.

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