Let’s just finish out July by updating my road trips, shall we? It was a busy travel month as far as mileage goes, and the gas pump receipts bear that out (don’t even ask how much it costs to tow a trailer 2/3 of the way across the country!).
The road is sometimes mythical and romantic, as in all those road movies and novels. And sometimes, it’s all about the trucks. And the “Welcome to…” signs that indicate another state. The road remains the same, the trees aren’t any taller or thicker when you cross from Ohio to Indiana. But there is the sign.
And there are, as always, Walmarts. I stocked up on groceries at this one near Brown County State Park, which was a lovely big park with nice sites and shade, which helped slightly to deal with the 90F heat and 90% humidity of an Indiana summer.
Two days later, after a brief camping foray with some Alto friends, I was back on the road and crossing into Illinois. It appears from the “Welcome to…” signs that that is a bit of a tussle over ownership of Abraham Lincoln between Indiana and Illinois.
Illinois definitely won the “most corn by the side of the road” contest I was conducting. Miles and miles and miles and miles of cornfields, with the occasional soy field thrown in by some daring farmer, I imagine.
By the time I hit Missouri, I’d left the Lincoln infighting behind and hit the least favorite sign of the road warrior: Road Work Ahead. It’s never clear if it’s a minor repaving or a massive “we’re building a new bridge so be prepared to wait 45 minutes to use that one-lane road” type of thing. Missouri, as it turned out, was a mix of both.
It was also mostly interstate highway for this leg, so I saw lots and lots of big rigs. My strategy is go to 55 or so (for better gas mileage, mostly) and stay in the right line. This strategy means most cars, pickups, and trucks pass me by, along with most big trailer rigs as well. I just shrug and turn up the radio. I’m in no rush.
By the time I hit the Kansas state line, I was in a groove. My daily schedule was basically get up and make a good breakfast, then break camp (which was minimal since I didn’t unhitch or set up any awnings or chairs), and hit the road by 8AM in what was usually a semi-successful effort to beat the scorching heat of mid-afternoon on asphalt roads. Drive two hours, then stop for gas and a Diet Coke and a bathroom. After emptying my personal black tank at the gas station restroom (an amenity that is usually clean and well-stocked in the midwest states, which I greatly appreciate) and cracking open the cold drink that would start refilling it, I’d get back in the car (oops, clean the windshield of the two-hour dead bug collection first), and then crank up the radio and hit the next stretch of road.
If things went well on any given day, I’d hit the campground by 1-2 PM and then be able to read and relax for a few hours, or take a shower and try to cool off. Even doing the minimalist camping thing (no unhitching, just stabilizers down to keep the trailer from rocking too much, no awning, maybe a chair but usually inside with AC), I worked up enough of a sweat that a shower felt good.
I left Lancaster, PA on July 7 and made it to Denver, Colorado on July 15. Most stops were one-night stands, but I did take two nights south of Indianapolis to meet up with fellow Alto owners for a mini-rally, and quite enjoyed the one-day break from driving.
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The truest drive comes from doing what you love.