We often end up in State Parks when traveling and needing a place to stay for the night. I’d rather be a bit closer to nature and don’t mind supporting public parks by feeding them a few bucks. On this trip we’ve hit a state park in Missouri and a couple in Arkansas so far, and have a couple of Louisiana State Parks lined up for the next few days. It’s not really off-season anymore – the parks down here are busy or full on weekends. Hence we’re planning a few days ahead so we don’t have to wander around looking for a place to stay.
We’ve had good experiences in the parks in this area. Arkansas funds their parks with a dedicated sales tax, so they are able to keep them well maintained. Electric sites are the norm here and are no more expensive than non-electric sites further north. A couple of years ago I was complimenting an Arkansas State Park ranger on the facilities, and he advised that Arkansas was quite proud of its parks. When I explained that Minnesota State Parks often are unpaved, have many sites without electric and no sites with water or sewer, he advised as how Arkansas had “…moved waaay beyond that…“. I laughed, and agreed with him.
Missouri State Parks have been pretty nice the handful of times that we’ve camped in them, and the staff have been friendly and helpful. A few years ago we had a Missouri park ranger go way out of his way to help us out. I had chatted with him the evening before we were leaving – asking about the parks, what kind of work he did, etc. so he knew of us and that we had been to his park.
The next morning we blew a trailer tire a few miles outside the park. I had every tool for every contingency, except that I never checked to see if the 13/16″ socket that I bought specifically to change trailer tires actually fit in the countersunk aluminum trailer rims. It didn’t. And the only other 13/16″ socket I had was a spark plug socket, which broke when I tried to crack loose the lugs nuts. So I dropped the trailer and headed into town to buy a socket, leaving my wife and sister in-law on the side of the road with the trailer.
I get back from town to see the ranger that I had chatted with the night before parked behind my trailer, talking with my wife and sister in-law. He had recognized the trailer and was checking to see if we needed help. I explained the situation, and before I could get started on the tire, he grabbed the breaker bar and socket from me and – in his ranger uniform – changed my tire, insisting that it was his pleasure to help out.
I thanked him and asked if he had a recommendation for a tire shop, as I was now without a spare and had decided to replace all four of the cheap Chinese OEM trailer tires rather than take a chance on another blowout. He said “sure, follow me…”, got in his truck and led me to a Goodyear dealer about fifteen miles away. When we got to the dealer, he went inside, introduced me as an out of towner and asked that they take care of me.
The dealer didn’t have four tires that fit. It happened that the manager of the Goodyear dealership was on his way back from the Kansas City warehouse, so the guy at the counter called him up and asked (or told) his boss/manager to drive back to KC and bring back the tires that I needed. No problem. The manager drove back to the warehouse, picked up my tires, and a few hours later I’m back on the road heading for another Missouri State Park.
Nice guys. Missouri nice. 👍
I hope that somewhere along the line I have or will be able to “pay it forward” for all the times that people have gone out of their way to help me out.
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