Arizona 2024: Day 36: Grafton, IL: The one with the buffalo fish

OK, let’s relax. Tomorrow is eclipse day. Bonnie Tyler will break out in song, parts of the word will go dark for a few moments, animals will make nocturnal noises and we will all remain calm. Sure, we will bring down the cellular networks posting our insta and tweets* of us getting blinded by the light, cause those goofy glasses just don’t help our images.

Morning walk was a bit of a fail. The words said that you can take the Pickle Creek trail to the end, and then cross the creek to take part of the Wispering Pines trail back making a loop. We all like loops. What the words did not say explicitly is that “cross the creek” means, literally, crossing the creek. You were going to get wet. I abandoned that plan and did a there an back on Pickle Creek. Pickle Creek was OK except there were a lot of larger rocks you had to navigate over or around meaning you had to place each foot carefully for large parts of the trail. hard to maintain speed.

Back at the van we got ready to depart and left our spot around 1000. Our first stop was 11 meters to the water spigot to fill up with water. Next we drove over to the trailhead and took Amy for a nice hike along Pickle Creek. Amy is always the star of the show and people love to greet our “puppy”.

Amy on Pickle Creek trail

We then drove the 1.5 km to the dump station at the park entrance where we once again remained free of faecal contamination!

Our drive today was only a few hundred kms so we had some time to spare. We stopped at Mastodon State Historic Site (I guess every place dealing with mastodons is a historic site, by definition). We took Amy on a hike to the place the bones were found and then we explored the museum.

North to St Louis we go! We chose to take the downtown route to go closer to the arch. Through very careful planning I purposely took the bridge over to Illinois, just so we could do a u-turn and come back with a better view of the arch. OK, I took a wrong turn, but got the right result.


Once we went through some non-touristy parts of St Louis we crossed the Mississippi river on the other bridge (which is beautiful) over to Alton, IL and turned left to follow along the Mississippi river. We both agreed that the drive was beautiful with many cool little towns or areas. We would like to come back and explore that area. Next time.

We stopped in Grafton, IL at Beasley Fish so Mrs Milddogs could try a “Buffalo Fish“. She seemed to enjoy it and I thought it was acceptable. As we were stopped the sky became a bit threatening and it rained. The rain was intense for a short period of time and then subsided.

We arrived at Pere Marquette State Park ahead of check in time. Our site was free and there are no actual staff that we have seen so we set up in Site 11. Good news, nobody arrived and claimed we were in their site.

Site 11, Class A

And now for that surprise! Here we are in our Buc-ee’s shirts.

Buc-ee’s shirts

No,no, no! That can’t be it, and it isn’t.

Just after we got set up, we noticed a van pulling in. A van that looked strangely familiar. And sure enough, not to our surprise, our good friends Tony and Barb pulled in and parked in site 12.

We spent the afternoon getting caught up and sharing stories. As you know from their blog (linked above) they are just starting their adventure as ours is winding down.

Some pictures.

I managed to consume the rest of my Bud Light whilst we visited.

Tomorrow is eclipse day. We hope to be in Terre Haute, IN at the big moment. We still have to find our preferred location. Given the time change and all, we plan to be on the road early (for us) so we can get settled in for the eclipse. Not really sure how any of that will go. But it if goes according to plan, tomorrow will be our last night in the USofA.

Stay safe out there!

*we got Twitter vs “X” all wrong. Rather than saying “X, formerly twitter”, it should be “Twitter, now known as “X”.

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