Following Spring

following-springGreetings from North Platte, NE, where once again night time temps will be dipping below freezing, requiring me to pay for a RV park so that I have electricity to run my little heater and keep plumbing and stuff from bursting. Having a RV site also means having WiFi in this case, so yay post time! 1,500 miles down, a relatively short 275 more to go tomorrow. Here’s the travelogue for Hardeeville, SC to Wentzville, MO. The rest will be coming as time permits.

4/16/12 – Tuesday

Running on not enough sleep as usual before the start of a trip, my 8:30 alarm offers a rude awakening. The next two hours I spend dumping my tanks, eating breakfast, getting all my hoses put away, making sure nothing in my fridge will break or tip over in transit, and other odds and ends.

It’s a glorious spring day in coastal SC, meaning it’s already pushing 75 by 10:30 am and the combination of humidity and sunny skies mean I’m sweating by the time I say my goodbyes to Hardeeville RV park. I’m going to miss the ocean, kayaking in salt marsh, Spanish moss in huge old live oaks, and most especially all of my friends down here, but now is definitely the time of year to be getting out of Dodge so to speak, before the really hot and humid weather hits.

It’s very hard to explain what it feels like, to be facing the first day of a big trip like this. Nervous excitement probably sums it up best. I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,700 miles of driving to accomplish in the next 5 days, and while the driving part can get tedious I really don’t mind it too terribly. The nervousness more stems from waiting for something on Cas to break, because I never make a trip like this without something happening.

So far it’s all been little stuff, like the valence over the emergency exit window coming down and breaking, losing my propane tank cover, or one of the rivets holding my A/C cover on tearing out, but my active imagination always likes to imagine the worst case scenario. I’ve written plenty on fear and how to overcome it before so I won’t go into details here, but I just wanted to bring up that just because I can put a lid on it and go out and do something exciting like drive across half the country to work at a National Park this summer, doesn’t mean it goes completely away. I’ve just learned to stick the fear on the back burner where it belongs and be able to enjoy the excitement part of it: I mean c’mon, I’m going to be working at the Badlands this summer, how awesome is that?

After crossing the Savannah Bridge, I’m in Georgia for most of the day, following the same route I took to get to Sioux Falls last year with one big difference. When trying to take 275 to bypass the heart of Atlanta I somehow end up in a wrong lane and exit off toward the airport. My iphone’s GPS compensates by taking me back on to 75, right through the middle of the city. It’s nearing 4 pm at this point and traffic is starting to get heavy, but other than a few slow downs and having to stay hyper aware of what lane I’m in it doesn’t go too bad. That’s one thing I can say for my truck + trailer combo: I don’t feel as worried about skinny lanes because I’m narrower than most rigs, and lots of traffic isn’t as bothersome because even with normal mirrors I can see behind Cas to some degree.

I also pass over the southernmost tip of the Smokies in the late afternoon. Like before, Bertha has no problems towing Cas up and over. At the top, just before the descent out of them there is a rest stop with a bit of a view through the trees. Since the leaves aren’t nearly as full up here as in Hardeeville a ridge is visible behind them, and I attempt to snap a picture of Bertha and Cas with the sun setting behind. It didn’t turn out too great, but I tried! Taking epic panoramic shots with my rig in the foreground is a skill I plan to work on.


Nighttime finds me at a Love’s Travel Stop a bit south of Murfeesboro, TN. It has a built in McDonalds, which means free WiFi to catch up on comments and e-mail. Depending on where you park your rig the WiFi can even be connected to from the comforts of your RV. I sleep alright, but the temperature has barely dropped from the daytime, the low is upper 60’s and inside Cas it’s much warmer than that with the sun beating on him all day. I traveled 471 miles today, more than what I needed to do to make it to the Badlands on time.

4/17/13 – Wednesday

It’s still hot, shouldn’t I be moving out of the hot and into cooler weather? My iphone’s app says the Badlands is under a winter storm warning and getting snowed on again, somewhere between TN and SD it’s going to have to cool down considerably, but it certainly isn’t yet. The mountains of Tennessee give way to the hills of Kentucky, and then I abruptly drop onto the flatter plains of southern Illinois, and the temperatures remain in the low to mid 80’s throughout.

In Illinois, I end up stopping at a rest stop I ate at when I came through last September. It’s a lot warmer this time around, and the sky has been threatening rain but there hasn’t been anything but sprinkles so far. I take a little bit of video at the rest stop, and wish that it would rain properly so that Cas would get a good washing off.

Not twenty minutes down the road I’m driving through pea sized hail and kicking myself for wishing for rain, but not as much as I’ll be kicking myself tomorrow…but now I’m getting ahead of myself.

Driving through the hail isn’t too bad, it’s small enough where I know it won’t dent or damage anything, but I keep one eye on the sky and one on the road as I continue on to Saint Louis, which is under a tornado watch along with most of Missouri. I pull in for gas at Wentzville just on the West side of Saint Louis, and when I see a Walmart on the other side of the interstate from the gas station I decide to call it a day.

I pull in at a Home Depot across the way for WiFi, and I like to think I have good timing because when I step inside Cas I realize that one of my cabinet doors underneath the side dinette opened along the drive again like it sometimes does but this time it rattled around enough to pull two of the hinge screws out of the fiberglass and cheap pressed wooden board behind them. One of the screws is missing in action, so I wander inside to buy a small pack of them along with some WD40 to spray the hinges with since they like to stick and put more pressure on the screws than they probably should.

My attempt at a fix fails when I realize that the holes are stripped and the screws won’t stay put when I open the door, hinge lubricant or not. To minimize damage to the hinge that isn’t stripped I pull out all the screws and take the door off – it’s something I’ll work on once I get to the Badlands and have time to fully analyze the problem. Luckily what I have stored in that compartment will stay put whether there is a door there or not, so it’s really just a cosmetic issue at this point.

I also notice while I’m parked at Home Depot that the cover on my spare tire has shifted considerably, which it has never done while driving before. When I pull the tire cover off to see underneath I see that the nut keeping the tire pinned on the screw to the back of the trailer has come quite loose, allowing the tire to shift around – that’s not good. So once again my el-cheapo Walmart toolbox comes out and I use a wrench to tighten the nut back up so that the tire is once again snug. I’m also a bit worried by the state of the caulk around where the screw enters the back of the trailer, although the screw itself seems firmly attached still. Pulling the tire off to re-do the caulk there has also been added to my list of things to do once I reach the Badlands. In addition, taking the tire cover off to tighten the nut has stretched the elastic out of shape some – the UV exposure during my time in SC last summer probably did a number on it, and I’m just crossing my fingers that I don’t lose it on the drive like I lost the propane cover last year.

With all of that more or less taken care of, it’s across the street to spend the night at Walmart. Once again it’s warm and muggy, but at least the storms hold off until dawn, allowing me to get some sleep. Which is good, because my wish for rain comes back to haunt me big time, and Thursday turns out to be the most trying day I’ve had on the road so far.

* * *

Cliffhanger! I’m evil, aren’t I? But in my defense it’s getting late here and this is getting long. I should be reaching the Badlands tomorrow where I am told there is currently “a lot” of snow. I kind of hope that’s true so I can get some pictures of it. I’m going to be put up in a temporary site until the snow melts enough for me to be able to park in my permanent one. Then I’ll have the rest of Saturday and Sunday to myself, then orientation is at 10am on Monday. I’ll do my best to get the rest of the travelogue up before the weekend is over, but I will say that Thursday really wasn’t too horrible in retrospect – it’s all a matter of how you choose to look at it. In the meantime, Julie has kindly updated my 2013 travel map under The Adventure if you want to peek. Have a good weekend all!

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  1. Furry Gnome on November 5, 2013 at 9:53 pm

    I’ve just realized we must have almost crossed paths last April. We went to the Smokies and then the big Quilt Festival in Paducah in late April, and spent a night in Nashville just before. By your map we must have travelled the same roads. Small world!

    • Becky on November 7, 2013 at 2:55 pm

      Yeah, I’ve had several near misses and a few surprise hits. Least now that you’re caught up on where I am if we end up close again you can shoot me an e-mail and we can try to arrange a meeting.

  2. cozygirl on April 21, 2013 at 9:02 am

    Your making great time despite all this crazy weather. Despite the setbacks…your determination is refreshing. You always just seem to go with the flow. By now your there or pretty close…hopeful the cliffhanger writes no snow and clear skies! Good luck with the training and getting your feet wet!
    cozygirl recently posted..RAINnnnnnnn!!!!!!!My Profile

    • Becky on April 21, 2013 at 8:34 pm

      Heya Carla!

      Yep I made it in one piece, the rest of the story will hopefully be coming tomorrow when I get my password to access the campground WiFi.

      I have to say that your determination is refreshing as well! I hope you guys dry out out there soon. I noticed a lot of flooding when I was driving through southern Illinois and Missouri…. but in Nebraska and here is South Dakota they’re still short on rain. If only one could direct it to where it was most needed. 😛

  3. Sutty on April 21, 2013 at 12:45 am

    All in all, doesn’t seem like too bad of a trip so far, but we miss you terribly back on the coast! If you need anything, just let us know. I’m sure we can figure out a way to get it out to you..

    • Becky on April 21, 2013 at 8:30 pm

      Aww, thanks! If I think of anything I’ll let you guys know. 🙂

  4. Pleinguy on April 20, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    It’s exciting to see you on the way to your summer job. Your trip is about the same length and time as mine was when I picked up Tardis (my RV). While challenging it’s still fun at the same time; at least for a newbie. Take care and be careful driving in that snow.
    Pleinguy recently posted..Home FreeMy Profile

    • Becky on April 21, 2013 at 8:25 pm

      Another Doctor Who fan, yay! Luckily most of the snow was melted by the time I got up here, although there was a bit of a wintery mix coming up through the North part of Nebraska. More on that in the next post though. I did arrive here in one piece. 🙂

  5. Bill on April 20, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    WD-40 and duct tape are always good weapons in the tool arsenal. You know what they say: “If it sticks and it shouldn’t — use the WD-40. If it doesn’t stick and it should — use the duct tape.” 🙂

    Good luck on your new adventure!

    • Becky on April 21, 2013 at 8:20 pm

      Haha, that’s a clever saying Bill! I have duct tape already too, bought that the first day I owned Cas when I discovered a rivet had popped out and needed something to temporarily cover the hole while I drove in home through some rain.

      Thanks for the well-wishes.

  6. george on April 20, 2013 at 9:52 am

    Kevin and William beat me too it on the suggestion on how to fix the stripped out hole on the wood.
    And regarding the cover on the spare, if the elastic is stretched out, what might work would be to install some brass grommets along the edge where the elastic is, and use either some bungee cords across the back or a short length of small rope thru the grommets to keep the cover snug.
    Well dang it Becky, had I known you were passing thru KC, I would have offered you stop by and we could have fixed those little issues in just a few minutes.
    You can buy a grommet installing tool and pack of grommets from Harbor Freight for under five bucks.

    Drive safe when you get up there in snow country ! But then you already know that being from the great white north.

    • Ross Macintosh on April 20, 2013 at 3:16 pm

      I like George’s grommets & bungie cord idea but think it might be easier to use plastic grommets that don’t require a tool. Plastic ones are bulkier than brass but very easy to install. I’ve seen them sold in Walmarts where they display the camping stuff like waterproof matches, space blankets & those little plastic covers you can put over your toothbrush for travelling. They package two or three plastic grommets in a little bag.

      I look forward to the next installment in the adventure!

      Regards, Ross
      Ross Macintosh recently posted..trailer pricing…My Profile

      • Becky on April 21, 2013 at 8:23 pm

        Thanks Ross. We’ll see what I’m able to find out here in the middle of nowhere to fix it with. 😛

    • Becky on April 21, 2013 at 8:18 pm

      Thanks for the cover fix idea George! It did stay on all the way here to the Badlands but I still don’t trust it 100%. Maybe I’ll find someone else here who’s more handy that me to help me fix the little stuff that needs fixing, hehe.

      As for the snow, it was 55 when I got here yesterday and most of it had melted already. But it’s suppose to snow again tonight, so maybe I’ll get my Badlands snow pictures yet. 😛

  7. William on April 20, 2013 at 8:53 am

    Kevin that is an old fix my grandpa taught me. I had forgotten until you posted. My two cents is, if you have a drill, drill a small pilot hole before you use new screws.

    Hey Becky,

    Like you I tend to imagine the worst and hope only the little things happen. I like the picture of Bertha and Cas, a little dark but reflects the coming weather. We had tornado warnings, so I hope you are not going to give us a wizard of oz story. 😉

    Stay safe and enjoy the weekend.
    William recently posted..Happy Birthday Dad.My Profile

    • Becky on April 21, 2013 at 8:15 pm

      Haha, no tornado fortunately! That would definitely not be fun to go through with a RV. I don’t have access to internet at my site yet so I’m stealing it from outside the Lodge to respond to these comments. The rest of the tale will hopefully be coming tomorrow once I get my paperwork, orientation, etc. done and get the password for the WiFi.

  8. Kevin on April 20, 2013 at 7:59 am

    To fix up your striped screw holes, get yourself some carpenters glue and a toothpick or two. Cut the toothpicks off so they just extend out from the hole when pushed in firmly. Fill the hole with the glue and insert the toothpicks and let dry. After every thing is dry cut the toothpicks off flush with the wood. Now you have something for the screws to grip when you reinstall the cabinet door.

    • Becky on April 21, 2013 at 8:14 pm

      Thanks Kevin!

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