Monthly Archives: May 2013

Kirkendall Public Library in Ankeny, Iowa

Name: Kirkendall Public Library

Location: 1210 N.W. Prairie Ridge Drive, Ankeny IA  50023

 

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 This welcoming Library is set in a beautiful area with walking trails, a community garden administered by the Parks Department and a sports complex nearby.  As you come in it is easy to see where the various collections, conference room and restrooms are. The staff is welcoming and greets you with a smile and an offer to help to find what you are looking for.  There are many internet computers available for public use and self checks so no need to wait in in line to check out your materials. There is comfortable seating in the magazine and newspaper area as well as tables in various places to spread out on with plenty of electric outlets for all the technology you bring with you.  There are two group study rooms and two smaller study rooms with computers for use if needed.

This library offers activities for all ages. The Summer Reading program ‘Dig Into Reading’ has a full calendar of activities. In the Children’s area there is a Lego table and another table with a wooden train for children to play with.  Near the check-out desk is a covered glass display case holding a model of a modern farm including a house, barn, animals and farm equipment that  that shows the  history of the area. There are many activities for all: a writing club based on the Harry Potter Series for grades 4 and up to  help develop writing skills;  a Teen area with books of interest to that age group with tables where they can study or read. For those who love word games there is a Sunday Scrabble for ages 12 and older.  There are computer classes available as well as tea and biscuits to eat as you watch the tv series Downton Abby.

This is a beautiful, friendly library that will be a community center for activities this summer.

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Campground review: Cherry Glen Campground – Saylorville Lake – Army Corps of Engineers

You can read a follow up review of this campground here.

2013-05-27 18.33.28.jpg A short 90 mile trip from Creston, IA brings us to Des Moines at Cherry Glen Campground at the Army Corps of Engineers’ Saylorville Lake.  We’re located on the northwest outskirts of Des Moines in a lovely campground that boasts excellent roads and big, level campsites.  The hookup situation is a bit strange: no water, no sewer, but 50 amp electric.  However, there’s a water station right at the entrance.  We stopped there and filled up with 100 gallons of water.  If we don’t go nuts using water that should be enough for our eight day stay.  We have three waste water tanks on board, and again, that should be sufficient for us.

This is Jackie’s home town and the reason we came to Des Moines was so she could spend some time with her family here.  We were super busy through the weekend.  (In fact, our being absent from the campground so much is another key to water conservation at the camper!)

2013-05-27 13.28.53.jpg We arrived at Cherry Glen campground at the beginning of the Memorial Day weekend.  Our reservations were absolutely necessary as the place was packed out.  There were not only lots of RV’s but also plenty of tenters as well.  Friday wasn’t bad if you didn’t mind the temperatures being in the high 50’s.  Then, on Saturday it rained and poured with lots of wind.  It was miserable weather to be in a nice RV not to mention being in a tent.  Still, these hardy folks held in there.  On Saturday evening with wet, windy conditions we heard children playing and saw lots of folks sitting around campfires.  Hardy folks – these upper mid-westerners (or something!).

2013-05-27 18.43.15.jpg In addition to the lake being near by, a wonderful, paved trail passes right by the campground.  The Neal Smith trail is something special.  It passes through beautiful woods and extends for miles and miles.  Our campground is at mile 16 and the campground is no where near the end of the trail.  What with family activity and the weather, Jackie and I have only explored a small portion of the trail, but the trail does call to you.  There are lots of bicycles on the trail and exploring it by bike is inviting.  I confess that it’s pretty hilly.  We flat-landers might find that somewhat intimidating.

We give Cherry Glen two thumbs up.  If you plan on coming just be aware that this is dry camping and it’s a busy place on summer weekends.  Otherwise, you’ll enjoy this nice, wooded campground just minutes from all the amenities of the city.

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Campground review: Green Valley State Park, Creston, IA

Our third longest planned travel day of the entire summer took us from east central Kansas to southwestern Iowa. We left our beautiful Kansas campground and headed north on I35. We’ve been driving up and down I35 for years so this is very familiar territory for us. Not seeing new things and traveling with a “destination oriented” mindset (“let’s just get there”) made the 280 mile day feel longer than it was.

The pickup pulled fine. However, the rolling hills were hard on our fuel mileage. We’re doing better than the 8mpg that I budgeted, but not much better.

The main stop of the day was in the town where Jackie was born, Mt. Ayr, so we could pay respects at the graves of her mother and father, grandmother and grandfather. She laid roses at each headstone.

2013-05-23 18.35.15.jpg There’s a great little ice cream place nearby so we grabbed a couple of cones before driving on up the road another hour to Creston and Green Valley State Park. Google maps must have lost it’s mind because it diverted us out of the way and wanted us to drive down a gravel road to the campground. I backtracked to town, drove through to the west side and there was a sign pointing to the state park, just two miles down a nice paved road.

Since I knew we were going to just be there for one night I had intentionally gotten a drive through, full hook up site. I hoped I would be able to leave the camper connected to the truck but the site was rather unlevel. I had to disconnect so I could raise the front of the camper to level. It was no big deal. In fact, I took advantage of the disconnected camper to drive back into town and fill up with fuel, something that would have been much harder with the camper in tow.

This state park was filled with Iowa folks who were camping over Memorial Day. The main feature of the park is a nice fishing lake (and people were catching fish). We enjoyed the full hookups and took advantage of them by doing some extra laundry. There are some real nice sites at the park and also some that aren’t very level.

2013-05-23 18.31.08.jpg One interesting camping feature was “buddy electric sites” in which two campers basically share one camping spot. All I can say is that you had better like your neighbor and also, you had better be good at backing a camper in!

Our stay here was just one night. If we got the right site, I wouldn’t mind returning to this pleasant, out-of-the-way spot.

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Campground Review: Outlet Park at Lake Melvern, KS

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We left Lake Texoma on Monday morning and drove north through Oklahoma and into Kansas. We had planned on leaving Sunday but with the bad weather we decided to wait an extra day. We left fairly early because we wanted to get through central Oklahoma as it was still showing a significant threat of bad weather. We drove through Moore, OK and then on through OKC around 11:00. At that time it was cloudy but there was no threatening weather around. We stopped for fuel just north of OKC and kept driving. We never saw a drop of rain, in fact, it was a pretty nice day. After an over-long day we arrived at beautiful campsite in at Outlet Park at Lake Melvern, KS. Our hearts go out to the victims and families of the horrible tornado in Moore. We could have never imagined such a thing happening as we drove through there just before noon earlier that day.

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This is a beautiful park.  We are camped in a big, level site beside the lake and have full hookups, including 50 amp power.  I can’t imagine a nicer campsite than this one.  There are plenty of trees for shade and a gorgeous view looking out across the lake.

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We are actually camped beside the 90 acre Outlet Lake rather than Lake Melvern.  To the west of us the huge earthen dam is quite visible.  Today we drove across the dam and back and then went to visit the marina.  We also took a drive into the community of Melvern.  There’s not a lot there, although the old time cafe was tempting.

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The main attraction here, aside from the beauty of the place, is fishing.  The state is encouraging fishing, in fact, there are fish feeders stationed around the lake.  We’ve seen lots of people fishing and with some success.  There’s a nice trail the circles the lake, probably an hour’s walk all the way around.  The roads here are excellent and just right for bike riding.

This park is a real winner and we recommend it to folks traveling up I35 between Emporia and Kansas City.  It will go on our “let’s go back” list.

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Campground review: Lake Texoma Thousand Trails

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Our overlong, road problem day brought us to Lake Texoma Thousand Trails.  This is a beautiful park with several amenities: two pools, two saunas, and more.  I guess I’d describe it as both full and empty.  Thousand Trails has sold most of the place to long term renters so the park is filled with RVs.  However, very few of them are occupied, at least during the week.  When one arrives, you drive up and down road after road looking for a vacant campsite.  And there are sites, you just have to hunt for them.  What most people would consider to be the most desirable ones are all taken.  Frankly, it’s a bit frustrating, especially when you’ve had road problems and are arriving five hours later than originally planned.

We did find a very nice site with a stand of cedar trees to either side of us.  It doesn’t feel like a compromise at all and had there been vacant sites all over the place we would have still happily picked this one.

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The preserve has a nice home-like feel to it, mainly because the many annual people have made upgrades to their sites, adding landscaping, decks, lighting, and the like.  Two sites across from us are lit up every night even though the campers are unoccupied. There are also many nice little rental cabins.

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Lake access is via a road that exits to the back of the campground.  Honestly, if the place wasn’t called “Lake” Texoma and no one told you there was a lake nearby, you could stay here a couple of weeks and never discover the lake.  However, there’s a big marina nearby.  I think that’s the main access for the fishermen and boaters rather than the lake access from the campground.

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There’s a big activity center here with games, TV, a store, and more.  There’s also an adult lodge with comfortable seating, a nice deck, and laundry facilities.  One night we went to the adult sauna.  It was relaxing.  I opted to not get into the pool as the water felt just a bit too cool for my liking.

We had a night and morning of big storms here and are thankful that the individual cells kept passing just north or just south of us.  Our hearts go out to those who were not as fortunate as there was considerable tornado damage a hundred miles or so to the southwest of us.  During the first part of the outbreak we went to the activity center rather than stay in the camper.  I expected to see others but only one couple came in.  Maybe we’ll adjust to weathering big storms in our camper but I kind of doubt it.

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Just down the road about 10 minutes is Cedar Mills Resort and Marina – it’s a really nice spot with a restaurant, gift shop, and a big marina. This is where people with boats here at Thousand Trails go to launch (and go to lunch too come to think of it).

Today we got our first mail shipment via General Delivery.  It went perfect and Jackie was relieved to receive some meds we had on order.  We’re here till Sunday afternoon when we’ll begin our trek north toward Des Moines with a few shorter stops along the way. We’ll attend services here at the campground so we can make a quick exit afterwards. I don’t like moving on Sunday and, if things go as planned, this will be our only Sunday move all year.

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