Thursday, March 19, 2015

Heartbreak at REI

Stairway down to viewing platform at the Devil's Well. It's a humongous
sinkhole with an underground lake. Water from the lake flows through karst
formations to Cave Spring and into the Current River. 
The S.O. and I had a few days off from campground hosting this week -- more than usual because we swapped days with the other hosts -- so have been relaxing at the Younger Daughter's place since Monday. We've done some touristy stuff like visit the Devil's Well and Alley Mill at Ozark National Scenic Riverways, hit a few antique stores and flea markets, and gone up to St. Louis to do some serious shopping. And that's when I experienced heartbreak at REI.

REI no longer carries the Teva sandals I love. These are the sandals I live in for about half the year, depending on where we are. In the U.P. it's more like only a third of the year because even I have to admit that once there's snow on the ground it's no longer sandals weather. I'm not kidding when I say I love these sandals. They're super comfortable and last almost forever. They have, however, gotten to the point where forever is almost here. They're still wearable, but the end is in sight. They're coming up on their six-year anniversary, and pretty soon I'll have to bid them a fond farewell as they hit the trash.

The Alley Mill. Along with the Portland Head Light in Maine and the Mabry
Mill along the Blue Ridge Parkway, this has to be one of The Most
Photographed Buildings in the country. Your tax dollars at work: NPS
put a lot of work into it recently; it's looking really good. 
On the other hand, we did find a Lodge cast iron frying pan at REI for sale at the lowest price I've seen on them anywhere so we've added that to the Guppy's gear. Seeing various campers cooking over campfires at Montauk has inspired us to acquire a few items so we can get into doing that, too. Up until now, when camping and cooking combined in my mind, it was more like backpacking cooking: small, lightweight pans used with a buddy burner or a backpacking stove. But if we're going to be where there are actual fire rings and there's plenty of firewood, it makes sense to take advantage of them. One of our flea market finds on Tuesday was a cast iron dutch oven with minimal rust -- the S.O. is going to work on cleaning it up and seasoning it. Tammi tells me one of her friends is the Master of the Dutch Oven: he can cook or bake almost anything in one. I'll have to invest in a camping cookbook and see what we can manage to achieve with ours besides the obvious stews or chili. I can cook on a woodstove -- how much harder can cooking over a campfire be?

The S.O. admiring the Alley Spring. The turbine pit for the mill is behind him;
the mill was powered by a vertically shafted reaction turbine.
And, in one of those it really is a small world incidents, I had the experience of running into someone at REI who had been at Montauk the previous weekend. He and several friends had camped in the basic section for a night before heading out on a canoe trip on the Current. They had made the mistake of asking me for directions to the Baptist Camp put-in. Never having been there, all I knew was that after leaving the campground you turn right on YY and eventually you have to turn right again. I could not remember if there was any signage that would help them. I told them to consult the large map on the front of the shower house. He said they did consult the map and managed to get lost. They had to return to the park and ask at the office for directions. The question did inspire me to put a few Ozark NSR brochures into the shoe box on the campround host's golf cart so that next time (if there ever is one), I can just hand the camper one of them. (I also now know how to give actual directions, having just driven that same way on Monday and seeing for myself just what the road is like and where the turn to Baptist is.)

The mill as seen from the other side of the spring. Over 80
million gallons of water pour out of the Alley Spring daily. 
I really wasn't expecting to run into anyone who had been at Montauk at REI in St. Louis. Most of the campers at the park are more the Orvis store or Bass Pro Shop type of personalities. I have been half expecting to encounter someone here in Farmington, maybe at the local Country Mart or Aldi, because the bonfire crowd had mentioned being from Farmington when we got into the discussion about that trailer load of firewood. So far it hasn't happened, but it won't surprise me if it does.

As for the sandals, I did look in a few other stores hoping to find something similar. No luck. I may have to resort to an online order, something I really hate to do when it comes to footwear.


  1. I have 2 cast iron skillets, one cast iron chili pot(what I call it) a cast iron flat skillet for bacon and eggs and a small grilled skillet..I use one of them all the time the rest maybe 3 times a year..if my son or grands dont want them I'll give the grill one and the flat one to you..

  2. Maybe you can rebuild them. I've never heard of REI before.

  3. Sounds like you are having a great time.
    the Ol'Buzzard


My space, my rules: play nice and keep it on topic.