Travels with Bentley

Travels with Bentley
Bentley - our Heartland Bighorn

Sunday, March 15, 2015

March 13-15, 2015 - Big Hill Lake, Cherryvale Site #24

Bentley has been calling our name for the past month or two wondering when we were going to take him out of hibernation and start the traveling year.  Finally we felt well enough (During the fall and winter Dean had knee surgery and is doing very well, I had sinusitis and then we both had the flu); and it seems now the weather was ready to cooperate - well, almost. 

Our original plan was to have Bentley ready to head to Wichita on Tuesday, March 10 so we could meet our new granddaughter, Emerson Rose; but she wasn't quite ready to make an appearance so that trip was put off until later this week.  Jarred (Daddy to be) called us last week to let us know that it now looks like it will be Thursday, March 19 before we can expect Emerson, so we had a few extra days to finish getting Bentley prepared for his first voyage of 2015.

This really ended up working out well as we like to take a trial run close to home the first trip out to be sure we haven't forgotten anything really important before hitting the road for an extended trip.  The weather prior to this was just too darn cold, so with this nice break in the weather it was a good time.  We decided Big Hill Lake located in Labette and Montgomery counties would be the perfect trip since it is so close to home.  On Friday we loaded up Bentley with a few clothes, our computers and just enough food for the weekend, and were on the road right after lunch at 12:54 p.m. 

We've wanted to weigh Bentley for sometime so before leaving town we swung by our local Bartlett Coop and while we were hooked up had them weigh the truck, both the truck and Bentley and then Bentley by himself.  These will be used to ensure that we are currently meeting the proper tow requirements and after seeing the numbers we believe they will turn out just fine.  We'll check this closer when we return home.

As I noted above the weather almost cooperated.  While the weather was calling for some light rain it ended up raining all the way to Big Hill and continued on as we found a site.  Fortunately it was a light rain and we were able to make it in to the selected spot on the first try, quickly got set up and in side before we were too wet.

And that is how we spent the evening, inside out of the rain.  Since grilling was really not something we wanted to mess with in this weather, I was really glad I had brought along some leftover white chicken chili.  It sure tasted good as the temperatures dropped later and it sure helped warm us up.  About 10:00 we headed to bed hoping we'd get a good night's sleep.

I guess the cooler temperatures and rain were good for sleeping because I didn't wake up until 7:30 Saturday morning and Dean didn't get up for another 30-45 minutes after that.  Wish we slept like that every night!

We decided we would make food simple this trip so I just brought frozen waffles for our breakfast.  Not really on our diet but it was quick.  We had plans for lunch in Coffeyville so was glad for the simple meal this morning anyway.  I had contacted a couple of the local Good Sam's Clubs in the area and the Big Brutus group was having their March meeting at the Sirloin Stockade in Coffeyville.  We needed to be there between 11:00-11:30.  We had a really great time at the meeting and met several nice folks.  Several knew friends of ours here in Oswego and one lady went to school with Dean's older brother.  The group plans to camp at Roaring River in April and while we hate to miss that trip we will be headed to Durant, OK for the spring Heartland Rally that weekend.  Most of you know we purchased a Heartland RV and then joined the Heartland Owners Club last spring.  We have really enjoyed the rallies we have attended so far and intend to continue our association with them and eventually we hope to attend other state Heartland rallies as well.  We do plan to join the Big Brutus Good Sam's Club for their May, June and July campouts.  It sounds like we will have a great time and we look forward to that. 

We needed to make a quick Wal-Mart stop after lunch before heading back to camp.  Seems you always forget something---right?  But we were soon on our way back to the campsite.

We changed clothes and decided we would hike to the overlook near the entrance to the Cherryvale camping site.  We're not sure of the distance but think it might be about a mile each way. We walked along the campsite roads and then over a large grassy area.  It was a nice walk and we really enjoyed it.  Here are a few pictures I took along the way.

 A close-up of the swimming beach across the lake from the overlook area.

One of the boat ramp and parking areas for fishermen, also across the lake from the overlook area.  Another close-up shot.

 This is a picnic area along the west shore of Big Hill Lake, taken from the overlook.

This is the overlook at the south end of the Cherryvale Park. 

It warmed up pretty good and we were quite glad to get back to our campsite.  It was a beautiful day for a walk though.  Since the Big Brutus Big Sam's will meet at this location in May we checked out the various camp sites and where we might want to try and reserve a spot near the group camping section.

Here are a few shots from our campsite.  I failed to get one of the fire ring where we built a nice little fire that we enjoyed for a couple of hours before and after dinner.  We roasted hot dogs over the fire and shared a small bag of Lay's potato chips, followed by the last of some homemade banana bread muffins with a bit of butter.  Yum Yum.

 This is the wooded area to the south of our campsite #24.
This shot is to the east; you can see the water through the trees.  Soon the leaves will hide the water view.
Our site was really nice.  It was fairly level with electric only.  We filled our water tank before leaving home and with only two nights camping we did not really need sewer.  With our Golden Pass we received a 50% discount so two nights was $17.  Not bad!
It really cooled down this evening but we enjoyed the fire as long as we could before fixing our dinner and for awhile afterwards; then headed inside for the evening.  We watched a good show "In An Instance" about a young lady and her father that were attacked by a grizzly bear during a hike in a national park in the northwest.  It was very interesting and very moving to watch.  They were very fortunate to have lived through the event, although both suffered very serious injuries.
Unfortunately I did not have such a good sleeping night as I did on Saturday.  Actually I slept great until 4:40 a.m. when my alarm clock went off.  Errrr!  I really need to remember to turn those off when I do not need to use them again.  I was unable to go back to sleep and 30 minutes later I got up and made coffee.  I love reading the numerous RV blogs I subscribe to in the morning with my cup of coffee.  So relaxing!! 
I did stick my head outside the door to take a quick shot of the sun coming up a little before 6:30.  The Weather Channel said it was 32degrees.  Brrrr!
We had a breakfast of waffles again this morning and then got around so we could hike the Ruth Nixon Walking Trail that follows the west shore of Big Hill Lake in the Cherryvale camping area.  The trail is approximately 1 mile long so with the trip back we got in 2 miles of good exercise.  It was a tranquil and fairly easy walk.  It was quite wooded so as the sun came up and the temperatures begin to rise we were quite happy for the canopy of trees and slight breeze from the water that kept us very comfortable.  We noticed quite a few deer had been out on the trail by the many tracks they left, however we were not lucky enough to see any.  There were many woodpeckers and I managed to get a close-up of one, although it is not quite as clear as I would have liked.
Here are a few other pictures I took along the way.
 A picture of the trail map.

At the bottom of the hill where the trail head began we found this very nice fishing berm.  A young man and his son were just headed out to fish when we reached the bottom.  When we returned another gentleman had just settled in at the far end to see what he could do.  Hope they both had good luck!

Dean as he turned around after checking out the berm.  He loves my surprise pictures of him!  :)

The two shots above are across the lake - the first is the east side, and the second is a shot of the dam to the south.  The lake was so calm (only seen one boat out during the first leg of the hike).  The water was so smooth it would have been great for kayaking.

As we made our return to the trail head, we passed our campsite about 3/4 of the way back and here is our Bentley patiently waiting for our return.
What a great hike this was and a great way to start our day.  After returning and resting just a bit we ate a sandwich for lunch and then started packing up to head home.  I will be taking our three grand-daughters Haleigh, Dacy and Kamron shopping tomorrow in Joplin.  We did this last year over Spring Break and had a great time.  The weather is calling for 70 degree temps so I'm sure it will be another great day.
We will be re-packing on Tuesday to head to Wichita on Wednesday for about a week!  Watch for the next post about our new granddaughter.  We are so excited to meet her!!

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