The second stage of my trip, getting from Georgia to South Dakota. Yes, I have my reasons for driving it all in one fell swoop which I’ll post about later since this it was threatening to become a monster of a post and I have less than two hours to find internet, get it posted, and get back before the park gates close.
9/17/12 – Monday
Since I had a camera (wo)man this morning for the last time for who knows how long, Julie recorded the steps I took getting the Casita all hooked up and ready for the road, and the process for dumping my tanks. There might have been a little silliness involved, but as I had a long drive ahead of me I needed the bolstering. By 10:30 everything was ready to go and Julie and I said our goodbyes, for now. It’s very possible I’ll be seeing her at Christmas time when I go to visit my parents since she’ll be flying up there to visit hers too.
With a deep breath, and a full thermos of water I hit the road. Low clouds followed me around the west side of Atlanta, and made for a moody Nashville skyline. Traveling up through Georgia instead of SC I missed driving through Smokey Mountain National park, but I still hit a bit of the southern edge of the Smokies in Tennessee. Bertha handled it like a champ. I of course slowed down, and watched her engine thermostat like a hawk – prepared to pull over and give her a rest if necessary, but it wasn’t. It climbed a little higher than usual chugging up the hills but was nowhere near the danger zone.
Going back down was likewise uneventful. I tapped the brakes twice, but didn’t need to ride them, and I never felt like the Casita was trying to outrun the truck, hooray for my brake controller.
Just as I was patting myself on the back for a job well done, the rain started. It followed me for a couple hours, and wore me out much more than the mountains did. I stopped at a TA truck stop to check the weather on my phone and realized that sitting still and waiting it out wasn’t going to work. A slow moving wide swath of green and yellow on the radar showed that my best bet was keep pushing North and West and I’d come out the other side of it, and indeed I did as I closed in on the Kentucky state line.
Originally I was thinking of stopping at Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area on the boarder of Tenessee and Kentucky, what google maps was calling a 7 hour and 10 minute drive from Indian Springs but given that I was driving a maximum of 60 miles per hour and was having to stop for gas and breaks of course it took longer. By the time I made it to the turnoff, it was nearing sundown and I wasn’t going to have enough time to get everything set up and enjoy it, so I went just a bit farther on I-29 and am staying at a Love’s travel center for the night. I promised Julie I’d call her and tell her where I’m stopping on the road so that someone knows where I am, so that’s what I’ll do next.
9/18/12 – Tuesday
Today was entirely a travel day. The night at Love’s was uneventful, but I was a bit surprised to discover that I needed a hoodie this morning, apparently I left summer behind yesterday.
Kentucky, Illinois, and then St. Louis – where I got a really good view of the arch driving past. Never have I done this much driving in a day, but good time was made. When I stopped for gas in Illinois, it was $4 a gallon, when I stopped in Missouri, it was $3.63 a gallon, about like it was back in South Carolina. Like yesterday I stopped a rest stop to make myself lunch, a sandwich with cold-cuts, but this one wasn’t as nice as the one in Tennessee that had the great lake view.
Tonight I’m at a Philips 66 gas station/Motel 8/nameless restaurant in one in the north western corner of Missouri. This much driving is wearing on me, but it means that I should only have five hours or so to get to Big Sioux in Sioux Falls, my final destination (on Thursday I looked up state parks in SD, and this one looked like the closest option for where I need to be).
9/19/12 – Wednesday
Yikes, the wind! I was only about 50 miles south of Sioux Falls and making good time when it really got going, and now I understand why RVers hate driving in it so much. I was in no danger of being blown off the road as it was coming head on, but poor Bertha was actually going into overdrive at 60 mph because of the increased resistance. I was driving 50 for much of it, and the speed limit is actually 75 here on the interstates.
A note for RVers: Iowa is a great state to drive through. I passed multiple rest stops that had free dump stations, how cool is that? There was some pretty significant construction work going on around Des Moines, but given the time of day traffic wasn’t an issue.
Around 2:30 I made it to Big Sioux Recreation Area, on the Big Sioux river. I chose a site right by the river and was rewarded with a great view, again I feel like I chose a good place to stop. Sadly they can only fit me in two nights since the whole campground is booked for the weekend, but that should be enough time to get my license and vehicle registration stuff taken care of. It feels very nice to be stopped for a while, even if it’s only a couple days. Now, to get my license taken care of…
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I’m still behind! There’s just so much to write about now and so little time. Ah well, more updates to come time and internet permitting. Nothing major went wrong on the road (that I know of so far), but I did have a few smaller mishaps:
- Some of my gray tank contents washed back up into the shower while I was driving from my site to the dump station in Indian Springs, getting the two things I stored in the bottom of the shower a bit nasty
- My fridge shut itself off when I went over the mountains on Monday, I caught it before it got warm enough to spoil anything, it turned back on easily and hasn’t been a problem since…so far
- On Tuesday the valence over the emergency escape window commited suicide at some point on the drive, I don’t think it’s salvageable since the wood is broke in several places, but I managed to get the blind itself back up for privacy’s sake
- When I unhooked the Casita on Wednesday I discovered one of my friction pads had broke again, on the opposite side as last time. Fortunately it isn’t as bad and getting a replacement isn’t an immediate concern
- The laminate flooring has shifted some in transit: it’s floating over the carpet below and so isn’t securely attached to anything, I have a couple cracks between pieces now that weren’t there before. This in itself isn’t a huge deal but it makes me wonder if any of my rivets have loosened or seals on the windows or vets may have loosened – I won’t know until it rains again
I could have gotten really upset by these little things, but in the long run I accept that they’re part of the learning process and that all good things come with a price. RVs are complex, and occasionally things will happen. Take the bad things in stride and enjoy the good things, like the beautiful view from the walk I went on today, but now I’m getting ahead of myself…