Tuttle Creek State Park
We find that we’re bound and determined to spend this time with the boys in school and the two of us working full time traveling as much as possible. No destination is too close. It seems that we (the royal We) spend a lot of time yearning for far off lands only to miss out on an amazing spot just down the road. This was a weekend trip just down the road from us, for just the two of us.
Tuttle Creek State Park, near Manhattan Kansas, is comprised of Tuttle Creek Reservoir among many other small lakes. The area boasts some 100 miles of shoreline to explore. As lakes in Kansas go, we can tell you the shores of the Reservoir itself are breathtaking and a visual experience unto themselves.
We loaded up our Subaru Ruby and hitched the pop up, Taos, on a Friday after work. We had a little drive ahead of us and listened to what has become our new favorite radio station, Folk Alley. Check it out here if you haven’t already. We just tell Siri to play Folk Alley and our phone does the rest. This time of year the sun is staying out a little later each night, making for a very doable Friday night adventure. We arrived and were set up, wine in hand, by dusk. Our spot was under a giant sweetgum tree where the lake flows into a river. It was beautiful and peaceful, even with about half the other camping spots full. Although we said “just the two of us,” we did bring our tiny travel companion, Pepper, along for the trip as well. As night settled on us so did a little rain…and then a lot of rain. This trip marked two “firsts” for us: our first trip with our dog Pepper and our first substantial storm with Taos. More on the latter in a second. Pepper is a miniature schnauzer; we were lucky to find her at our local humane shelter in May 2020 and she was immediately adopted as a member of our family. As dogs go, she is very smart but can be overly vocal at times. She’s yet to recognize that others are allowed to occupy space in this world! More on traveling with a dog later; that’s a blog in progress.
The rain was predicted to be mild but by 9:00 pm it was downpour. One thing we didn’t predict was just how loud water on our pop up would be. At times we weren’t able to hear each other talk but on the other hand it was a very relaxing sound so we didn’t mind being deafened by it! We are happy to say that as far as the canvas’ structural integrity goes we stayed dry all night, Taos had no leaks. We usually try to plan an easy first night’s meal, looking for some downtime after driving and setting up camp. Tonight was no exception and we heated up some already cooked chicken strips over the Coleman and added them to a salad. We also had plenty of crackers, cheese, hummus, and wine to satisfy all of our cravings.
Temperatures were in the mid 40’s overnight so we turned on the electric heater. We had a full electric hookup. In the future we plan to be able to be fully self contained for off-grid camping but we’re not quite there yet. The temp was plenty comfortable all night. However, we’ve noticed that because the bunk ends are little more than a piece of wood between our mattress and the outdoors, the bed can be a little cold. We use a couple blankets to ensure we’re comfortable. Morning came quietly; we made our coffee and did some reading and talking. This is one of our favorite times of day, we have our morning routine, no stress, and the entire day ahead of us.
A Relaxing Saturday
After we lounged around camp for most of the morning we were ready to get out and explore the park a little bit. Emily had visited Tuttle Creek in the last year with a friend and remembered some cool trails not far from our site. We loaded up Pepper and set out for a lovely walk that at first felt like we had been transplanted to the Southwest. We were on a trail that went along the river surrounded by sandy shores and some aromatic cedar. The only sounds we heard were splashes as turtles slipped into the water as we approached. It would have been a perfect setting to spend the day reading or writing!
The second part of our walk took us along the shore of the lake through mature trees. Although we had seen plenty of cars parked near the trailhead, we were pleasantly surprised not to meet many other hikers. Pepper is working on the whole hiking on leash thing so our relative solitude was probably for the best!
We hit the camp store on the way back and Zach got us a sticker for Friends of Tuttle Creek. Earlier this year we started collecting stickers at different spots we visit to decorate Taos and our Yeti cooler. We also found an off leash dog park that was awesome for little Pepper. Due to the COVID pandemic, we have never taken her to a dog park and she loved running free and wild for a little while. Tuttle Creek State Park was full of sweet little surprises like the trails and the dog park. It really was a perfect getaway that fit into our weekend and was affordable and convenient to us. The whole trip was a good reminder not to discount the beautiful places that are in our own backyard!