Sunday, April 6, 2008

Trip 2 - Lake Manawa State Park

It's not the distance in the travel for us yet but the travel in itself. Still trying to master everything and not deciding where or IF we were going for sure until late Thursday we happily took off on our latest adventure Friday early evening.

We traveled only 25miles and found ourselves at Lake Manawa State Park just across the river in Council Bluffs. Never been there before and and its a pretty interesting setting.

As you pull into the park from the north you circle around on the west and drive by half million to million dollar homes on the west of you and Lake Manawa on the east. There are lagoons backing up to these homes and access under the road to the lake for their boats. Its kind of a narrow winding road and water pretty close to both sides of the road in some places makes it kind of neat. It was twilight as we entered the park and we spotted a bunch of WHITE spots on the lake only to put down the windows and hear the noise of thousands of Snow Geese who has flocked to the lake. In our route to the campsite we also saw several deer, a skunk, a white owl and many ducks. By the time we reached the campsite we had killed a LOT of daylight and it was pretty much DARK...

I pulled through the gate wanting to find a spot and worry about the self registration later. The first bunch of sites were all short and had no electrical so I wandered on and finally came to the part of the campsite that had electrical and just to my luck PULL-THROUGH sites. Backing the trailer is not difficult but I was in a hurry and it is now totally dark. We came to the first spot and pulled in, this looked good, wonder why this site in the middle is wide open and there are several campers on both sides of it. Well after pulling in and scouting around looking for an electric box there wasn't one. For one reason or another this site just didn't have one (site marked electrical). We ended up backing out of this spot because going forward would have either resulted in going IN the OUT or taking a SHARP LEFT turn right next to a big MH to circle back around. Not having paid enough attention about leaving when I pulled IN I wasn't in the position to turn left when pulling out. We found our second spot and assured it had electrical and decided this looked good. We leveled the trailer and got everything situated and within 30 minutes we were setting pretty good (this isn't so tough after all). [By the time we were set to head out on this trip I knew there was a good possibility of it being DARK by the time we set up camp and kind of wanted it to be to work through the KINKS of getting everything together in the dark].
Morning came and I realized I hadn't picked out the "most premium" site available (see picture) as coming out the door facing the southeast I was greeted with house after house (not the million dollar homes either) as the southern boundary of the park has a neighborhood backing up to it. Had we faced northeast we would have had a nice view of the woods and the lake and everything else besides the neighborhood. It wasn't as bad as it could have been but it surely could have been better.

I learned something new calling around on Friday preparing to leave. Iowa doesn't have a State Park Sticker system fueling money into the state parks. You could definitely tell some of the resources are a little scarce or should I say have been a little scarce for this park. I know its "the off season" but this park has definitely been used and is showing its age. NOT saying I would not go here again because it does have a LOT to offer but it just seemed very "worn".

Because my glass is always HALF FULL I wanted to share some positives about the park.
  • Bike Trails - This park has a good system of bike trails throughout the southern boundary of it. It has a MOUNTAIN Biking Trail further south but Alyssa and I never made it that far. Wasn't a paved trail so Alyssa kind of balked at it.
  • Beach and Sand Volleyball - Since we're still in the off season the Beach house and volley ball courts were still closed off but the setting looks real inviting on a Hot summer day
  • "Dream Playground" - This is definitely the biggest kids playground I have ever seen, probably bigger than the biggest 4 playgrounds I have ever seen. I mean this thing was HUGE, 50 yards wide by 40 yards deep.

  • Proximity - The idea that I can pull out in the TT and within 45 minutes easily be cracking open a refreshment is very nice.
  • Gas is cheaper in Iowa - 3.07 on Sunday when leaving, wife asks me if I want to top off and I say NAW, I got 3/4 of a tank. $3.29 at the station near our house - WIVES RULE

I'll end it on that note leaving this entry with some lessons learned.

  1. Scout your site prior to backing in to assure everything is as is should be.
  2. Don't be afraid to use what you have. We weren't planning on using our fresh water (as its not exactly out of freezing threat here) but when we pulled in and couldn't find any toilets unlocked facing a 4 mile slow trip back to town we "let her rip" and filled up the tanks the next morning. - 100 ft of hose and 97 feet to the nearest hydrant. AHHH Life is good.
  3. Don't forget to RAISE the dolly - Nutshell version, (or not) We were leaving Sunday and couldn't get the coupler locked on, decided to drive a bit and have the WD hitch set up a little better as couldn't get the linkage I wanted either but couldn't get hitch to lift truck since wouldn't lock on. Parked in the parking lot by boat dock, wife and daughter went for a walk. I went to the back and the coupler lock had settled onto the hitch nicely... YAHOOOOOOO - Tighten up the linkage on the WD hitch and we'll be good to go. YEP, about 3 feet until I felt the drop of the back end of the truck and trailer and felt a HUGE PIT IN MY STOMACH as I realized I had left the dolly down. AHHHHHHH CRAP - went around the edge of the truck expecting some catastrophe and WALA, no harm no foul.... AHHHHHHH Life IS good.
  4. Camping World is the DEVIL :-) . (although I did get a GREEN light to pick up an ELECTRIC Tongue JACK - Wives ROCK).

We had a great time and feeling pretty good about where we sit, I am sure there are bound to be many, many things that will come up on our adventures but I am confident it wont be anything we can't handle.


  • If you BS with the guy filling your propane he MAY knock a buck a gallon of the price making it only $3.25 a gallon instead of $4.25 a gallon.
  • TT toilets are TINY but MIGHTY :-)
  • Your propane goes further than you think (although I did get the GREEN light, at camping world, to pick up a couple of propane tank indicators that screw into you line in front of the regulator and measure you propane - WIVES ROCK)

A few more pictures of our fun.

Until next time.... Yeldarb


Henchman said...

Brad as you continue to venture out try Wilson Island sometime. It is not that far from Omaha and is cared for better than Lake Manawa. It is an Iowa State Park and you can reserve a spot at . I have been there a couple of times and it is nice. Make sure to visit the park and write down your most desirable campsites prior to registering for one.

The Henchman

Yeldarb said...

Will do, I've driven through there a few years ago and looks like a good close place to try sometime....

The bad Liz said...

I'm jealous!!! My first trip out this year isn't until the beginning of May - but it's only two weeks away. This weekend is the cleaning up the camper, washing rugs, and looking forward to our new season of camping.

Camping said...

This camping trip makes me happy and also the great pictures that you have. Thank you for sharing...

Chuck Stevens said...

Camping with a new truck is always an adventure! I recently borrowed one of the fleet trucks from my dad's company and went out with a few buddies. Definitely a good time but of course we had to get use to the truck. Pretty funny when we got back finding out my dad knew where we were the whole time with the fleet services that were installed in the truck. From the looks of the pictures it seems like you had a great time!