Well, y’all, I made it past my first (totally made up) milestone! I’ve been on the road full time for over a week! It has not been a disappointing journey, to say the least. There have been awesome experiences and there have been learning experiences with many other experiences in-between along the way.
I do love the driving part. I could drive for a living, as long as the view is not too boring. In my opinion, It’s always more enjoyable when the drive is a ‘new view’ that you have never seen. For the first leg of the journey, it was all too familiar, just a means to an end, up until about Kentucky. That’s where the view started to get really pretty and a little less familiar.
Our first night was spent ‘boondocking’ or ‘dry camping’ as they call it (camping without power/water hook-ups) in a Lowe’s parking lot just south of Birmingham.
(Thank you, Lowe’s! I spent enough money in your store for the past 10 years to justify staying a night and using your WIFI!)
I thought I would wake up at 6 so I could leave before all the employees arrived… not so. The parking lot was FULL of employees when I woke up! Including the ones parked right behind my rig. Well, whatev’s.
Along the way, we found a roly-poly ‘farm’ at the base of a tree, and a vine that might be poison ivy. (?)
The paths were inviting and shady so it was a very nice place to stretch our legs after our Lowe’s night and long drive the day before.
The next day, I didn’t want to stop anywhere, but I had to stop in Birmingham for a work call. After that, I made a beeline for Illinois, and just before sunset, right at the Tennessee/Kentucky border I finally
gave up stopped at a Flying J truck stop for the night. (Night 2)
At Flying J’s and some other truck stops, they have public showers to use for a fee. I needed a shower, and decided I had no choice. However, the concept grosses me out on a few different levels. What goes on in those showers?
Still, better to shower in ‘Ick’ than to not shower at all, right?
So I paid my $12, asked what to do with my ticket, and the attendant advised me to go down the hall after my shower number was called out to be ready. It was ready immediately, so I proceeded to see what I
was in for had paid for. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it was clean, open (but private) and totally dry! The entire room was tiled with those large 1′ tiles. It had plenty of room to change clothes, a fan, a bench with towels on it, a sink and an outlet for a hair dryer. The shower had no curtain and it was behind another wall. No pubic hairs (or any hairs for that matter) to be found….
I showered, but I made sure that my bare feet never touched the floor! (Ick) I used their towels to keep my feet from touching anything. I showered, dried off, put my clothes back on, and for the first time ever, I waltzed out of a gas station with dripping wet hair and sans any makeup. (Whatev’s again.)
This new lifestyle is not so bad! I walked back to my home which was parked next to an old motorhome, so I said goodnight to its resident ‘Dave’ and hit the sack. Slept like a baby!
That night, Gizmo posed the craziest Madonna ‘Vogue’ pose for me right before bed, and thank goodness I had my phone camera ready… I am posting this as a random cute/funny dog photo. (By the way, I could have been the creator of Funniest Home Videos. I had thought of the concept long before the show, but did not have the entrepreneurial necessities.)
Next stop for day three? Springfield, Illinois (“Springfield, Springfield, it’s a hell of a town…”) to visit a friend who was staying at a hotel there for work. Just before reaching Springfield, the crew and I stopped at a rest stop for a much needed leg stretch/energy release, at least according to Gizmo, the spry two year old teeny tiny Chihuahua with ant legs. We went to a nice field with flowers and grass that was as tall and taller than Gizmo. Gizmo ran around off leash, and it was fun to watch her get some bugs out of her system. We had a great time together, then wrapped it up and I got back into my troffice (truck+office=troffice) and did some online work with giant mack trucks on each side of us, engines growling.
Springfield was nice, though uneventful. My friend and I went to eat Thai food across the street from the hotel. Of course, what I ordered was different than what I got, as I do not read and process menu’s very well at restaurants. Then I get mad because I didn’t get what I wanted, but it’s what I ordered, so my bad. Still, the curry was darn good because I didn’t cook it.
We hung out, caught up a bit before I retired to the Slingshot, in the parking lot. (free)
We took an ‘iconic’ photo that she started, just by mentioning the idea, that this is now the ‘place’ where I will take photos with friends/new friends I make along the way, right under the Slingshot logo on the side of the Rv! I’m starting a collection.
The next morning, we said our goodbyes, I filled all of my water bottles up with water, did some more online work in my troffice and the girls and I were off to Chicago!
After spending an arm and a leg on TOLLS, (RRRRRRRRR!) I arrived in Schaumburg, Illinois just outside of Chicago.
My sister and I conspired to surprise my nephew at the mall, as he did not know I was coming. I surprised my sister only a day or two before that that I was coming. (The plan has been to have no plan) He ended up being as surprised as a 6 year old will get, for a second, then immediately asked to go play some more in the children’s play area. (Oh well! Chopped liver)
It was really good to see them, and we ate McDonald’s in my RV in the parking lot. Haven’t had McDonalds in probably 8-10 years! My Big Mac was good. I like them. But yuck at the same time!!!
That night, I stayed at a Wal-Mart parking across the street. (free) The only snafu that happened there was a drunk guy meandering past my rig while I was walking the girls. I watched him, took photos of him, made sure he knew I saw him, but he was totally unaware of me in his haze of some sort of . He carried on and I never saw him again. No worries.
Of course, I safely parked right under a light.
The next day, I got ready, checked my phone for directions to the next destination which was Black Hawk Valley Campground in Rockford, Il, where my sister and nephew would meet me. It was my first campground stay since I have been doing this full-time. All of my other stays have been parking lots. This place was $30 per night, so so far, I have only spent $60 in lodging fees. That’s $7.50 per night. That’s my kind of deal! I don’t plan to stay at any more campgrounds on the way, but I may have to if only to dump my tanks.
I learned one really good and memorable lesson at this place. (Well, two if you count the awning lesson coming up in the next post…) NEVER park under trees that are shedding spring tree bits. My truck and camper took a MAJOR hit! Ugh!!
When It was time to set up my site, I wanted to roll out the awning. I had watched youtube videos on it before, but didn’t really remember how it was done. I tried putting it up regardless.
I ended up having a struggle with the awning, and the awning won. I got attacked TWICE by this object with no evil intentions. (Well, I dunno about that….) I have it on video for my next post.
The weather also did not cooperate with me for the first time on my journey at that beautiful campground. The drizzly rain was a bit of a buzzkill, but we still found activities to do and just had fun being together! My little RV is sort of like having a fort you built when you were a kid. Just fun!
In my next post, I have more to tell about our stay at that campground, and also where I am right now (Wisconsin) on this eighth day of the trip, and about the FABULOUS people that I am staying with whom I met through online social media! (Really!)
They have offered a degree of hospitality to me and the pups which is above and beyond what I could have imagined or ever would have expected. I was really just a stranger to them only 3 days ago. We are now lifelong friends! We are sure we will be seeing each other again. I have been blessed. How are these people even possible? That’s how awesomely kind they are.
They are kindred spirits… the sort of people I have hoped to meet on this journey.
Surely, 1,847 words is more than enough for your eyes/brain to process for now, so I will post the video of the awning incident and my new friends among other stories next time! Now, If I can figure out how to post a video…
Thank you for following, and stay tuned! MUCH more to come….
Kelly, Gizmo and Trix.