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Our First Trip, Part 2

by Brandon

June 18, 2022


Brandon is a software quality analyst for Garmin and on the board of directors for the non-profit organization Missouri Hunting Heritage Federation. In his spare time, he enjoys getting out on hikes with his wife, Sarah, and their two dogs, Gunner and Ember.

As part of our planning to get from our first night’s camp spot to our second night at Hercules Glade Watchtower, we decided to bypass our original trip plans of taking some forest service roads and stick to the pavement. All of the flooding in the area and hitting those couple of barriers that caused us to backtrack the day before made us to not want to push our luck and get either vehicle or the trailer buried up to the axles in mud. Since no one in our party had much (read: “any”) experience in vehicle recovery, I think we made the safe choice. 

After our quick stop back in town to pick up some forgotten items, we were on our way through some twisty Ozark mountain roads and though some amazing landscapes. At one point, Sarah and I were talking about a beautiful view when our friend came over the radio saying “this scenery definitely does NOT suck.” While it’s not the Rockies, southern Missouri does have some beautiful views.

On the road toward our second camp spot on the trip.

We arrived at our second night’s planned campsite around lunch time, and that was pretty good timing. After a quick lap around all the camping spots, we settled on one that would allow us to both set up close to each other. This was the only complaint we had the night before—we were spread out a bit too much to really talk without yelling at each other. The second night is more what everyone had in mind for this trip. Not to say the first night was bad, it definitely wasn’t. The spot was great. It just didn’t have the best layout for how we were hoping to set up camp. This spot had a nice flat area for our friends to set up their tent and gave us a chance to use the trailer’s leveling jacks for the first time. I think the previous night gave each of us a good idea as to how we could get everything together better, because it seemed that everything went up smoothly for both of us.

One of the goals with our adventures is to hike in areas that are more off the beaten path. This second night was a good trial for that too, as there was a trailhead right at our camp spot.  After grabbing some lunch, we decided that we’d give the trail a quick hike. Along with our friends was their Chihuaha/Pomeranian mix. Both Gunner and Ember (can’t be a DogJeep without dogs) were with us. We all hit the trail for a few miles and had a really good time getting out on a hike and spending some time outside.

Gunner (left) and Ember (right) relaxing on their camp cots.

After the hike, we finished getting set up for the night. Once that was finished, we all sat down and got to talk for a while and just enjoy being outside. For dinner that night, Sarah made an awesome vegetarian Italian skillet meal. The weather was also supposed to be cooler that night, and since we had grabbed some firewood while in town, we figured we might as well put it to use—plus we had some s’mores to make. Though we had both done a lot of preparation, we had neglected to bring any fire starters, and most of the sticks and leaves in the area were still damp. Needless to say, that made for a funny time for us to get the fire going. I think it took around an hour, but once we got it going, we had a good time sitting around the fire talking and thinking back on the day. At one point, Ember decided it was bed time, walked over to the trailer door, and just gave us the look that she was ready to call it day. It was right then that we knew she was enjoying the trailer as much as we were. The fact that she knew that was “home” made both Sarah and I smile.

Our setup at the Hercules Glade Watchtower campground.

The next morning, again Sarah was up before me and had coffee going. We decided that we’d skip breakfast this morning and just enjoy camp a bit more. After packing up, we were on our way home. Overall, we both had a great time. I would have rather been able to take our originally intended route, just to get a bit more of the feeling that we were on some trails, but with the condition of the terrain, our experience levels, and the want to have a safe and relaxing weekend, I think the correct decisions were made to ensure that would happen. We are already planning our trip, so make sure you stay tuned.

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