Day 13: Stealth Camping Near Oakville to Silver Lake Campground in Burlington IA, 42 miles

I woke up in the dark with a start, to the sound of raindrops on the tent, and fell back asleep.

I woke up in the dark with a start, to my worst fear: some critter that looked like all the ‘possums I’ve seen as road-kill had unzipped my tent, and was sitting on my face while busily chowing down on the food I had reluctantly stored in my tent last night. I  tried to yell at it, but had no motor control and only managed a moan. I tried again, louder, and got a groan. The third time I got something that sounded like a scream of panic.

I woke up in the dark with a start, to the sound my my scream, this time for real (I thought). 12:47AM. Tent intact, food supplies unmolested. I took my wallet and phone out of my pockets, trying to get more comfortable, but left the flashlight and kept my glasses on just in case I woke up again and needed to see immediately, and laid back down on the lumpy ground.  I fell asleep thinking about a non-inflatable sleeping pad.

I woke up in the dark with a start, to the sound of raindrops on the tent, and fell back asleep. Stealth camping has it’s charm, I guess.

I woke up in the dawning twilight, and decided t o get an early start to the day. The top of my left knee still sore, I lowered my seat-post a few millimeters. Short on water, I nixed the idea of breakfast, struck the still damp tent, and decided to head for the “4th Pumping Station” Campground. Google Maps indicated it was just 4 miles away. Using a road that wasn’t there any more, I discovered the hard way. 12  miles later I made it, and proceeded to cook breakfast. The campground looked modern, and boasted a pavilion with electricity and pit toilets. One of the nearby buildings had not one but TWO open wifi access points. Taking stock of the situation, I decided this was brunch, and I followed up my oatmeal, bacon and coffee with a four-egg omelet and more coffee. Probably not going to be a high mileage day today.

I lingered at 4th Pumping Station campground till 1pm, enjoying free wifi, electricity & a 2nd cup of coffee. Having missed dinner last night, I was hungry by the time I rode off, even though I just finished “brunch.”

The day quickly warmed up, to the point I stripped off the rainjacket & changed from knickers + pants to just pants.

Rode Highway 99 most of the way from farm country near Oakville to Burlington. Had a late lunch at Town Hall, switched things up with a 12-inch pizza (cracker-thin crust, tasted almost like a frozen pizza) and a Fat Tire.

Silver Lake Campground near Burlington wasn’t quite the typical RV park; it was an RV park on a lake; a “lake place” for people who didn’t care to own the property, just cared for a place to “get away” to on a lake. Noise from the highway and the occasional train dominated the soundscape.

Feeling a touch of indigestion, I only made coffee for dinner. I used the Trangia alcohol stove because I was still trying to use up the last of the 70% isopropyl rubbing alcohol that was hogging on of my 20-oz MSR fuel bottles. The cap on the plastic bottle of white gas has a leak; despite double checking that the cap was tight this morning the bottle neck was wet and the pannier it was in continues to reek of white gas.

I sipped my coffee while watching the stars come out. Stargazing is something I’ve been into since grade school but sadly “haven’t had time” to enjoy since starting college in 1995. Even though I haven’t broken out the binoculars yet, it’s refreshing just to see the Milky Way in the sky again.

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5 Responses to Day 13: Stealth Camping Near Oakville to Silver Lake Campground in Burlington IA, 42 miles

  1. Jim says:

    I can’t be sure, but I think you may have some undue angst about stealth camping. Get comfortable and relax – nobody is out there patrolling the woods looking for unauthorized campers. what’s the worst that can happen?

    • Sean says:

      Thanks Jim. You might be right; the worst that happened last night was I’m short on water again (the slough that allegedly connects to the Mississippi River looked to nasty to even think about trying to filter).

      Sent whilst stealth camping in Illinois.

    • Shaun says:

      I guess Jim has never seen “Deliverance”. :)

  2. Lanny Hoff says:

    We never store fuel in a pack when we canoe. Is there a place outside the pannier for that leaky fuel bottle? Good luck with a solution.

    • Sean says:

      Thanks Lanny,
      I solved that situation by emptying one of my two MSR bottles of alcohol and using both of them for white gas.

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