Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Windy Exit

Friday September 30, 2011
Sugar Bottom Campground
Coralville Lake
North Liberty, Iowa


Yesterday, Thursday, when we awoke for the last time
in the parking lot of the Winnebago Visitors Center,
the winds were, as predicted,
25-35 with gusts from 40-64.
But, like they were when we left the badlands,
they were coming from the NW
and luckily we were going SE. 
So we lit out for the tailwinds
at about 10:15am


We stopped for gas and to have lunch about 2 hours
into the 195 mile trip
and then once more
when my kayak with the rudder started
moving back and forth in front of the windshield. 
We tightened the straps,
pulled back out in front of the winds
and drove in to Sugar Bottom Campground
about 3:30. 

We set up in Site 302 right next
to our friends Dennis and Holly Ann Rogers
who had told us about this
and even called with directions this morning.  
Are they nice or what???

We sat around with them and Miss Gypsy for a while
with their Vectra buffeting the winds for us
talking of this and that.



Dennis has a “sacred hour”  at 5:30 when the news comes on. 
He was a columnist for the Raleigh News for many years.
So I guess the “bad news” as I call it is still in his blood.  :-)
Time for dinner so we left him to it.

This is a Corps of Engineers campground on Coralville Lake
outside of  North Liberty Iowa just north of Iowa City. 
One of several campgrounds in the really large
recreation area around the lake. 

We have Full hook ups and a LEVEL concrete patio
for $24 a night  ($12 if you are a senior).  
Looks like it’s going to be a great place to stay
for its last 4 nights of the season.  
It closes Monday so we’ll be moving on then.

We’d definitely stay longer if we could.
But before we go, we hope to take advantage of
some of the MANY things to do here.
Hiking trails (well not me probably but maybe David)
biking trails (not sure about this but I might try)
kayaking (yeah! just let those winds die down)
and the Fossil Gorge.  
More about that after we see it.



I’ve been corresponding recently with one of my followers, 
a fellow hiker/biker/runner/RVer Jude Langhurst. 
When she found we would be in the Iowa City vicinity,
she wanted to get together.  
So we’ve planned to meet at the Prairie Lights Bookstore
tomorrow for coffee and pastries.  
She’ll then be off for a long week-end bike ride
and we hope to explore this park.  
And also hope the winds tone down by then.



This morning, Friday, I lazed around reading before
setting out for the Prairie Lights Bookstore.
Seems appropriate doesn’t it??

This is one of the GREAT independent bookstores
left in this country which seems to prefer Barnes & Noble
and the Kindle to real books.  Well everyone that is but
me and the folks at Prairie Lights.





The bookstore has a very nice cafe
which served great pecan rolls, my favorite,
and apple coffee cake made from local apples which
Jude and David had.


We had such a fine time talking with this
kindred spirit that neither of us thought
to take a picture of the 3 of us.
shame shame……all the more reason to see her again.
BUT here is a picture she sent me of her and
husband Val when they took their Class B
Pleasure Way – just like Nancy & Bill’s – in
August to Glacier and left JUST before I broke my ankle.
Good timing Jude!


Grinnell Glacier Montana - Aug 14, 2011

And here’s one of the cafe we took
AFTER she had left to pack up for her biking adventure
and we remembered the camera was around.




We’d had to put the car in a metered space
since we were just on time to meet Jude
so when she left, David went out to move it
while I spent LOTS of time looking around
the bookstore.

This is a GREAT bookstore which has readings
nearly every night as well as a fabulous collection
of books you want to read in every genre.
If you are in the Iowa City area, don’t miss it.
They are an endangered species at this point!




I found the perfect book for
Duckie’s and Roamin to read when they get together. 
Looks interesting don’t you think.
No matter what your interest
Prairie Lights has you covered. 




We stopped on the way home at the
Coralville Lake Visitor’s Center and
saw their excellent film on the 1993
flood and discovery of the Devonian Fossils
and the 2008 flood which really devastated
this whole area but enlarged the fossil beds.

Who knew??

I also had no idea that the Geode was Iowa’s State Rock
or that there were so many of them in SE Iowa
where we are now.

Wouldn’t you like to pick up a plain looking
rather round rock like this




And find quartz crystal formations  inside?




I also bought a book from the center called
Camping with the Corps of Engineers.
It is the 7th edition printed in 2007 and
they didn’t know if there was an updated
one coming out soon or not but
this one looked very helpful to me since
it lists all the COE campgrounds by state
with a map of each state showing the campground
locations and symbols showing
what services are available.

This does not contain National Forest Campgrounds
just COE.  But it will be helpful I know in planning
our stays on the road.  I’m sure all of this is
available on line as well but it’s quick and easy
to look things up here.


From there we went down to see the Devonian Fossil Beds.



There is a nice patio with information signs all done
on Limestone rock.


And this one with a very clear warning
to those pesky defamers of national treasurers



We learned that Iowa was once south of the equator
and was covered by warm, shallow seas
similar to the Caribbean Sea today. 
The Devonian age fossils are almost 200 million
years older than the dinosaurs.

During the summers of 1993 and 2008, Coralville Lake
exceeded the maximum capacity
and excess water flowed over the emergency spillway. 
The 1993 overflow continued for 28 days
and reached 17,200 cubic feet per second
washing away a road,
a campground
and removing up to 17 feet of soil and rock
exposing the Devonian bedrock
that became the Devonian Fossil Gorge. 
In 2008, floodwaters again swept through the gorge,
with flow reaching 19,500 cubic feet per second
widening the gorge significantly and causes millions
of damages to homes and businesses.


We walked SLOWLY down into the gorge.
The fossils were amazing and everywhere.
Here is just some of what we saw.







So cool looking at these ancient, I mean REALLY ancient,
sea creatures preserved in stone.










We came back home and had dinner.
About an hour or so after that David went out
for a run around the campground.

He took a picture of Coralville Lake in
the beginning of fall in Iowa.
Hope to get out for some kayaking in the next couple of days.



You can trade full hook ups for electricity only
and a site on the water.




I think this is the site David wants next time.
Or maybe he thought it was the one I’d want. :-)




This large campground was  empty in a lot of places.



And that’s about it for our first day at
Sugar Bottom.   Aint’ Life Grand!!!


  1. I wrote the fossil beds down as a place to go..the campground looks wonderful! Glad you are thinking about riding your bike!

  2. Moby Duck? That is too funny, now I have to go and track down that book.

    I'm dying to see if they found all the ducks, otherwise there must be 28,000 unhappy kids at bath time with nothing to play with. ;c)

  3. I think we may have discovered that Duckie's first name is Moby!

  4. Great campground!! What amazing sites.

    Bike riding sounds like something that might be less stressful on the ankle but good for the soul ;o)) I know it is so difficult for you to 'take it easy.' Look whose talking, the exercise at 5am queen:o)) But like a wise woman once told me, "You will be telling funny stories about this years from now!"

    Loved the Fossil Beds and hope to see some kayaking in your future!!

  5. That's a nice looking cg. I hate that they close so many nice parks this time of year. I love the Fall. Roamin and Duckie will have a good time quacking jokes about their travels.

  6. oh no -- is the wind following you now like the buffalo were there for awhile? I don't like wind!!!

    Glad you were able to get into Coralville Lake. That looks like a really nice campground.

  7. Love the looks of that campground. COE parks are our very favorite and I can hardly wait till my next birthday when I can be a senior and get those awesome rates!!!

  8. I have to get that book. We really think we will enjoy COE campgrounds.
    Looks lovely!

  9. Before I read that the rock was a Geode, it looked like a ball of pie dough!! I'm ready for another DGB pie :) Pretty campground and very neat fossils. Go Iowa!


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