Rock Creek State Park, IA

August 19th

An evening view of Rock Creek Lake and the bridge taken from our campsite

Our campsite

Our campsite

Sunset at Rock Creek State Park

Sissy, bright and early in the morning

And who says Iowa doesn´t have anything to do or see except looking at the rolling hills of wheat and corn for miles? It has plenty of things to do including visiting the birthplace of John Wayne, riding the bike through the countryside on a bright and sunny day, and even fishing from the lake bank at the Rock Creek State Park! Well, that´s exactly what we had PLANNED while stopping in Iowa for 2 days and nights because it was beautiful! BUT, there´s a catch ... Iowa also has the GOOD, BAD and the UGLY ... which we also experienced during our 1 day visit. Yup, that´s right! Our 2 days and nights quickly turned into 1 night and then out of there!!!

John starting our campfire

THE GOOD - First, let us say that Iowa is absolutely gorgeous while traveling through the countryside even on an interstate. The rolling hills of farmland (miles and miles) dotted with an occasional farmhouse and barn make you want to simply pull over to the side of the road and spend hours admiring the scenery. Farm animals were everywhere doing what they do best (nothing but grazing and meandering about), and farmers were working their fields as they´d done for hundreds of years.

John getting the rig parked

THE BAD - Iowa now has the West Nile Virus which is spread by the mosquitoes that were everywhere! The news advised everyone that 3 cases had already been reported and that number was expected to grow rapidly for the next 2 years. Our campground, right around Rock Creek Lake, was covered with the little critters. Although we were used to them from back home, it was very annoying to say the least. We were going to have to be prepared for our fishing adventure around the lake in the morning.

But first, we had to get an Out-of-State Fishing License from the local Bait Store up the street. When we arrived, the Park Host couldn´t tell us how much a license was but did give us directions on where to go to purchase one. After parking the rig and looking up what the cost would be in our 2002 Traveler´s Guide, we decided the $8.50 fee for 7 days wasn´t bad. We could even go fishing our first night before dinner because the sun was still shining and the bugs weren´t too bad. Besides, our campsite was right on the lake bank, and we wouldn´t have to walk very far to get back home.

We rolled the bike out and up the street we went. The Bait Store was a little dinky place reminding us of a North Carolina Bait Barn we´d seen near Kelly. There was an OPEN sign in the window and a van parked out front so we figured we were in luck. After going inside, John asked the woman clerk if they sold fishing licenses. Yup, we sure do. "How much, for an Out-of-State License?" he asked. With a puzzled look on her face "I think they´re $31.00 for 7 days." After telling the clerk we thought the fee was $8.50, the clerk replied "Our legislature raised the fees in January." Ok, not wanting to argue with her, we simply decided against buying a license figuring we´d ride the bike the following day simply touring the countryside and visiting the Birthplace of John Wayne also just down the street. Our fishing adventure would have to be put on hold until another place and day.

Sissy immediately after taking a shower and getting dressed

MORE BAD - The next morning, we were up bright and early to get an early start on the bike. Sissy turned the television onto the weather channel and discovered a huge storm was heading our way. Thunderstorms, hail and 3 inches of rain had already fallen in Des Moines (close by) and the storm was heading toward our campground. Whelp, we decided to not ride the bike and check out early. Sissy took her shower, got dressed and walked up to the Park Host to exchange checks with him since our previous check (written for 2 days) couldn´t have been deposited into the bank yet. We´d arrived after the banks closed the day before, and it was before 0800 this day.

Sissy walking up to the camp host to exchange checks

THE UGLY - The Park Host told Sissy that the weather was gorgeous and it wasn´t going to rain. He also told her that we couldn´t get a refund, and we would have to write a letter to Des Moines and the State would send us a ticket to be used at a State Park in Iowa for the future. He would check with his supervisor (Bonnie), find out what paperwork was needed and come back to our campsite with it.

When the Park Host came to our site, John talked with him and found out that we weren´t getting a refund, we couldn´t exchange checks, and we would receive a ticket to be used at the Rock Creek State Park in the future after writing a letter to Des Moines. He also told John that our previous check had already been sent to Des Moines, and there was nothing he could do about it. Well, you know John! After trying to reason with the Park Host, John told him we would be forced to stop payment on the first check (for 2 days) and give him another one for the time we´d used already (1 day). The Host said he´d check and get back with us.

We packed up our things and John was about to take his shower when an armed (gun and badge) Park Ranger (Larry) arrived. "Did you threaten my Park Host telling him you were going to stop payment on your check?" John just knew this was going to get ugly ... but after asking if he could tell his side of the story, and after explaining the situation from our perspective, Larry said he understood and would check with his supervisor. A short while later, Larry returned with our first check (the one that had supposedly already been sent to Des Moines) and our registration paperwork from the day before. He gave that back to us. We then completed new paperwork for 1 night´s stay and gave him a check for 1 night. Situation resolved due to an intelligent thinking Park Ranger and his supervisor!

What came next? You guessed it ... we were out of there and heading east!

John & Sissy EXCLUSIVE RATINGS: (1 bad - good 10)

  • Campground - 10
  • People - 8
  • Roads - 9
  • Scenery - 10
  • Traffic - 10
  • Things to Do - 8
  • Weather - 10

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