When I left Iowa, I knew where I was headed: an Army Corps of Engineers park two-thirds of the way across Missouri. I started thinking that was a stupid plan within about twenty minutes of starting to drive. It was raining. Like, skies opening up, buckets of water flooding down, raining. I kept thinking, “Why am I driving in this?” Eventually I stopped, ate lunch, and started looking up alternatives that didn’t have me on the road for another three hours. I settled on Wallace State Park, because it was about forty minutes away from where I was.
I knew nothing else about it. I was completely complacent about availability — I didn’t even bother to check. After all, it’s October. And it was pouring rain, with severe thunderstorms predicted for the evening. Who goes camping in the pouring rain in October? Answer: enough Missourians that the campground was almost completely full.
After I drove through and failed to find an open site, I parked at the restrooms and began the search for a new campground. I was debating whether I wanted to just find someplace for the night — in which case, why pay for camping, why not stay in a parking lot? — and whether it was important to me to stay on the eastward path I’d already mapped out or whether I was willing to swing farther south, when a pleasant woman in a campground t-shirt came over to my window and asked if I needed help. I explained that I was looking for another campground and she told me that there was one site left, #46. Yay for friendly campground volunteers.
As might be obvious from the fact that the park was almost full — in October, in the rain! — this is a really nice state park. There’s an easy one mile trail through the forest that starts literally right next to my site, plus some other longer trails. The sites are sheltered by trees, so even though there are a lot of people here, it feels pretty private. And, joy of joys, the shower has normal hot and cold water faucets.
I’m not sure how long I’m going to stay, whether I’m leaving tomorrow or going to try to stay another few days. I got all tangled up in Grace again, realizing that maybe it would be better if I did something different at the beginning, and then making changes that ricocheted around it like those bullets that leave trails of destruction in their wake. Hollow points, that’s what they’re called. Yes, I shot my manuscript with a hollow-point bullet. Maybe I’ve killed it. Fortunately, it’s a zombie book and will rise from the dead, every time. Also fortunately, I can always revert to a previous non-dead version. I’m just stumped at the moment, while I try to sort through the wreckage and ponder how the pieces fit together.
Anyway, part of me thinks that I should sit still for a couple days and concentrate on Grace. Another part of me thinks that I’m going to be out of coconut milk for my coffee tomorrow and out of dog food on Wednesday, plus I need to refill the water tank and dump the other tanks, so I might as well just start driving again.
Traveling really does take a lot of mental energy, though. Somehow, it requires so much attention. It’s like I need to/want to be living in my imagination in order to write well and instead, I’m… well, living in Missouri. Which is very cool, I like Missouri. It reminds me of Arkansas, which was one of my favorite places from last winter. They are adjacent states, so maybe that’s not so surprising, but it might just be the quantity of small kids running around, too. Either way, though, I feel like I’m paying too much attention to Missouri and not enough attention to the worlds I’m trying to create.
Walking is a great example, too. As a writer, my best walks are the ones where I come back and I was totally in my head, the exercise was just shaking the story loose and drawing out the words. But as a constant traveler, my walks are unfamiliar so I’m always paying attention to them instead. The trails here are gorgeous — wooded, paths heavy with fallen leaves, squirrels and birds and interesting sounds — but I took three walks yesterday, trying to resolve my Grace puzzle and none of them got me anywhere closer to an answer. Sigh. But it’s a great place to wander, that’s for sure!