Camping

Dubuque, Iowa – My First Attempt at Car Camping

A large part of my Epic Journey was to do the trip spending as little money as possible, learning to live with less and going without a lot of extra comforts.  Car camping seemed to be my best solution as I am not much of a tent camper.  My first attempt at camping, many years ago, did not go well and I ended up sleeping in the car rather than a tent, so I naturally figured I could drive across country sleeping in my car.

The Dubuque City Park had a lovely veteran memorial.

The Dubuque City Park had a lovely veteran memorial.

It was an interesting concept, although not very well thought through.  But Devi was my home during this trip and I did sleep in her several times.  The original concept was to have an air mattress in the back and sleep on that, but I ended up bringing too much stuff and could not do that.  In Dubuque, I slept in the front seat and that proved rather crampy.  After that I would clean out the back seat and sleep there.  That worked a little better.

In future adventures, I will have to re-think the entire car camping process and come up with a little bit better way to do it.  I still feel it is a viable way to camp, it is a lot less expensive than motel/hotels but to just think you can curl up and go to sleep in your car every night, without a plan, is not very smart (no one ever said I was smart when it came to camping).

During the first night of car camping, I stayed in the Dubuque, Iowa, City Park.  It was actually a lovely site right by a river.  I watched barges go up and down the river and heard the strangely comforting sounds of trains passing by in the distance.  The cost was perfect at $12.00 per night and I felt completely safe there.  I would definitely stay there again as it was a truly lovely location.

This was the view from my campsite.

This was the view from my campsite.

One of the many barges that I watched float on by.

One of the many barges that I watched float on by.

The park was extremely well taken care of.

The park was extremely well taken care of.

Preparing Devi for what turned out to be a long night of tossing and turning.

Preparing Devi for what turned out to be a long night of tossing and turning.

A beautiful sunset in Iowa.

A beautiful sunset in Iowa.

An artistic view of the bridge as I left the next morning.

An artistic view of the bridge as I left the next morning.

On the road again to the next adventure.

On the road again to the next adventure.

Day 13 – Clinton, Oklahoma to North Little Rock, Arkansas

An Epic Journey

We started the day off by stopping at the Route 66 Museum in Clinton, Oklahoma.  I figured it would be a tourist trap that was designed to only suck your money away.  I was wrong.  It was an adorable, yet small, museum dedicated to preserving the history of Route 66.  The displays included quite a few authentic photographs, props and even cars of the time.  I am really glad we stopped as it was informative and fun.

I love the history of Route 66!!  It is true Americana! I love the history of Route 66!! It is true Americana!

While driving in the west, one cannot help but notice all the casinos along the way.  I totally understand that those casinos bring tourist dollars into the community, provide decent wages to local people and they allow people to better themselves.  I get it, I really do.  But when you look around and you see big, bright and shiny casinos surrounded by…

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Day 13 – Clinton, Oklahoma to North Little Rock, Arkansas

We started the day off by stopping at the Route 66 Museum in Clinton, Oklahoma.  I figured it would be a tourist trap that was designed to only suck your money away.  I was wrong.  It was an adorable, yet small, museum dedicated to preserving the history of Route 66.  The displays included quite a few authentic photographs, props and even cars of the time.  I am really glad we stopped as it was informative and fun.

I love the history of Route 66!!  It is true Americana!

I love the history of Route 66!! It is true Americana!

While driving in the west, one cannot help but notice all the casinos along the way.  I totally understand that those casinos bring tourist dollars into the community, provide decent wages to local people and they allow people to better themselves.  I get it, I really do.  But when you look around and you see big, bright and shiny casinos surrounded by broken down cars, trailers in desperate need of repair and other obvious signs of economic blight, it becomes hard not to look at the casino as, at least, a partial reason for the problems.

We stopped in one, since I have only been in a casino once in Niagara Falls. I decided to try my luck at the penny slots.  I took a seat by a slot machine that showed brightly colored cupcakes (how bad could it be…they were cupcakes and party hats) and tried my luck. I was up to $40 from my original $20 and feeling pretty good, when Lady Luck decided to leave the room.  In no time, all the money was gone and I was left with nothing.  As I looked around the room, I saw the same look I had on many of the faces there and I hoped they had not come here looking to make enough money to pay the rent or buy groceries.  It may happen for a few, but for the majority winning is not a option.

I have been so down that I have resorted to playing the Lottery in hopes of getting some relieve.  I understand the concept, but never once have I won.  You only end up losing what little you had to begin with.  Everyone knows that the casinos are in business to make money, but human nature, no matter how down and out, still has that one glimmer of hope that says today will be the day.  It just hardly ever is that day.  I am not sure what point I wanted to make other than I saw the sadness and hope that I can help somehow, someday.  I am not anti-casino, in fact for the most part I never give them a thought, but the “lure of easy money has a very strong appeal.” (words by Glenn Frey)

I do not know how I keep getting off on these negative notes.  I do not mean to, but you cannot close your eyes to the lives around you.  This trip is about self-awareness and awareness in general, so I guess it is only right that these things stand out to me.  It is making me realize that the world is truly much bigger than what I see in my everyday life and that many people are hurting (some of it is self-induced, I get that too).

(Removing myself from the soapbox again.) On a lighter note, I have learned a few lessons so far from this trip and I thought I would share them:

  1. I have gone two weeks without any television and I have not died!  I cannot believe how freeing it is not to be hooked to the television.  I may be a little out of touch with news and such, but it feels good to have cut that cord a bit.
  2. I can shower in a public shower as long as there is a door.  Never in a million years would I have guessed that I could ever do that.  You get to a point and have no choice and you do what you have to do.
  3. No matter how much I try (and I have), I am just not an outdoorsy-kinda gal.  I can appreciate nature and its beauty from inside the air conditioned car.  I still rather sit inside with a good book and an iced tea.  I tried….I really did!
  4. Seems most Western drivers like to go really fast.  I am a slow poke driver who has to work at keeping up with the speed limits out here.  Cruise control, on the open road not in town, is my friend.
  5. Diner food is the absolutely best!  I love the atmosphere and the food.  We need more diners!!
  6. I can exist on one meal day (and a few snacks).  I was eating way too much and that is not necessarily a good thing.
  7. I can sleep in a tent.  Yes, I can.  I may not be particularly fond of the notion, but I can now do it and am even somewhat helpful in the putting up and taking down of it.  NEVER in a million years!
A cute picture of an old ice cream / soda fountain.

A cute picture of an old ice cream / soda fountain.

I know it is not a terribly noteworthy list, but I am getting there.  I am doing things I never dreamed I could do.  Thank you for listening.  I appreciate all of you out “there.”

Day 12 – Grants, New Mexico to Clinton, Oklahoma

I did not have Wi-Fi yesterday so I could not post, sorry about that!! So today I will do a couple of posts.  First of all, yesterday we had an unremarkable day — which is good when the temps are over 100 and you worry about the car — traveling out of New Mexico, through a small bit of Texas and into Oklahoma.  We traveled on Rt. 40 which runs close to the old Route 66.

There were a lot of remnants of Route 66.  Many ghost towns, closed businesses, cars and trucks just parked and rusting and a very sad view of a life that was once vibrant and new.  Seems to me, and I could be way off base here, that my parents generation started off with roads like Rt. 66 (obviously after the dust bowl which is what facilitated the Mother Road) as a way to see the country in their new and shiny cars.  The heyday was amazing with post-war families driving out west to see the Pacific Ocean and all the other sights along the way.

Then the Interstate idea hit and now you could not only get out west but you could do it faster.  It seems to me that was the demise of important roads like Route 66.  I remember a couple of trips with my folks and it was always on interstate highways, never on “back roads.”

But our generation seems to be looking back to those simpler times when you could ride the Route and have a great dinner at a diner, and reserve a room at a motel (with conditioned air and color TV!).  You could see all matter of weird and interesting sights as you drove.

The resurgence of the Route is hopeful, in fact, many businesses never left they just seemed to wait it out. I am so happy to see that people are interested in the Route again. Interstate highways have their place, but Routes like 66 and 20 have American history attached to them.  People drove those roads to find better lives and we need to preserve that.  It is a piece of us and we cannot afford to just throw it away.  (Sorry, I am off my soapbox).

Last night, after a long day of driving, we got to our KOA cabin and I melted down.  It is amazing how lack of quality sleep and overwhelming heat can cloud your mind.  I just sat on the edge of the bed and cried.  Not for any particular reason, just for all of it.  But I broke out my Kindle and I read a short story from “Christmas in Absaroka” by Craig Johnson.  Between Craig and Mike, I calmed down and forgot about the scorpions and rattlesnakes (did I mention they live where in the same state as I was sleeping!).

I am not a bug person, I totally understand their purpose in life other than to bite me.  I understand food chains and such, but I am not a fan.  There are so many bugs alive and dead in the southern part of the states — many more than I am used to.  But I have decided to embrace my inner bug lover and get over myself.  I still slept partially awake looking for scorpions, but luckily they stayed away.

I do have a bug repellent tip:  Repel Lemon and Eucalyptus (DEET Free) is amazing.  It keeps bugs way away.  Most people too.  DO NOT BREATHE IT IN!!  It is harsh and strong, but it works.  You get used to the smell after a few days and then you can tolerate it better.  Good grief though, it is powerful.

I am going to shower since it has been a few days in 100 degree heat, then do some laundry (again it has been a few days) and then I will come back and tell you about today.  I also have lots of pictures, I just have to go through them.  Hope you are enjoying the posts.  More fun to come!!

Rattlesnakes and scorpions live here...oh my!!

Rattlesnakes and scorpions live here…oh my!!

Pictures with TEXT for Lemon Cove to Seligman on ROUTE 66….Hope you like!

Route 66..cannot believe I am here!

Route 66..cannot believe I am here!

Day 10 – Lemon Cove, California to Seligman, Arizona (on Historic Route 66)

Well, we made it out of California.  My driving style, if you can call it that, does NOT work in California.  I drive much too slow and much to cautiously.  That ended up causing several problems with the locals.  So, needless to say, I am thrilled to be in a more rural locale.

All day, we have been bopping on and off Route 66.  We wanted to make some time, so it only made sense to stop off once in a while and see it.  All the reading I did on Route 66 said that there were places along the way in disrepair.  I am sorry to report that those reports are true.  I know there are historic groups working to revitalize the route and I hope they are able to.  It is such a chunk of real Americana.

Yesterday and today, our lives have been touched by several people and I thought today’s post might be a nice shout out.   This list is not all encompassing, but I hope it helps you all realize just what an important part of this trip you all have been.  I would have chickened out if it were not for you.  So thank you.

And the Thank you’s go to:

  • Everyone who helped with a financial donation.  As you know this trip was planned before Mike’s employment situation changed.  We were forced with the tough decision to wait and take the trip at another time (which probably would never have happened) or tough it out with what we had saved and ask for help.  We received the kindest donations, gifts I will NEVER forget.  Thank you for without you, I would have only made it to Chicago and probably not back (kidding,sort of).
  • Everyone who helped with donations of food, camp gear and, most of all advice.  I have been able to save a boatload of money eating the items that were donated and the items I got at Aldi’s.  Shout out to Aldi’s and their Gluten Free items!!  Thank you for your assistance as I was definitely not ready to do any serious camping.
  • Thank you Bryan Farr for sharing your excitement for Historic Route 20.  The enthusiasm was contagious and I caught it!
  • Darlene and the whole crew at AAA Solon who created the Trip Tik I am using and providing information on the area’s I am visiting.
  • Thank you to KOA for making my camping experience tolerable.  As I stated in an earlier post, starting at age 53 with no prior camping experience (okay there was that one time, but talk about a disaster, let’s just forget it ever happened) has proven to be a challenge.  I love the friendly people, the clean facilities, the laundromats and more.  I am a KOA convert!
  • Thank you Brittiny Morrison (fellow Ohioan) and Barb Jensen Elmlinger for all your help trying to connect me with the right people in Buffalo, Wyoming.  I will be back!!  And to Craig Johnson who introduced me (not personally) to Buffalo.
  • The great folks at Lemon Cove for giving the great tour!  Thank you for everything!
  • Everyone who is reading these posts.  I know sometimes I am so serious and not quite humorous enough, but I am working on that.  I want to write things that come from the heart and apparently my heart is rather serious (who knew).
  • This is a Supernatural shout out.  I have a Supernatural bumper sticker on my car (it says “Driver picks the music. Shotgun shuts his cakehole.”).  In all the time I have had that sticker I have only met one other SN fan as we are few and far between.  On the way to Newport, Oregon a car sped by us and when I looked over they were showing a picture in the window which I could not quite make out. As they pulled in front of me I saw the picture was of them with Jensen Ackles and Jared Padelecki of Supernatural.  You guys made my day.  We honked and waved and they drove off.  One of life’s little pleasures!
  • Last but not least, thank you Devi.  Devi is a comfortable car to drive and sleep in.  She carries my stuff and lets me always have a place to eat.  She is my traveling buddy and I appreciate all her extremely hard work!!  Love you Girl!

There are so many people to thank, I just wanted to list a few off the top of my head.  I will be listing more because this trip has actually become more about me and about the connections I am making with wonderful people.  Okay, it is still about me but I am seeing the value in opening up, losing the shy routine and finding out other people’s stories.  Everyone has a story, they just need someone to listen to it.

I merged two posts so the text would sort of align with the story of that part of my journey.  I am amazed at how many pictures i took, and at how the natural beauty along this whole trips fills my brain up with things i NEED to write about.   Hopefully it is an interesting diversion for you readers?

Thank you again for your support and for listening.

The sky out west is truly amazing!!

The sky out west is truly amazing!!

More sky, it's like it is everywhere...oh wait, it is :-)

More sky, it’s like it is everywhere…oh wait, it is 🙂

A picture of the tent I sleep in.

A picture of the tent I sleep in.

The last of the foothills and mountains...looking forward to flat lands again.

The last of the foothills and mountains…looking forward to flat lands again.

The west has an amazing beauty.

The west has an amazing beauty.

Cannot seem to get away from Walmart (a joke for all my Bonitas friends).

Cannot seem to get away from Walmart (a joke for all my Bonitas friends).

Stunning views!!

Stunning views!!

Day 10 – Lemon Cove, California to Seligman, Arizona (on Historic Route 66)

Well, we made it out of California.  My driving style, if you can call it that, does NOT work in California.  I drive much too slow and much to cautiously.  That ended up causing several problems with the locals.  So, needless to say, I am thrilled to be in a more rural locale.

All day, we have been bopping on and off Route 66.  We wanted to make some time, so it only made sense to stop off once in a while and see it.  All the reading I did on Route 66 said that there were places along the way in disrepair.  I am sorry to report that those reports are true.  I know there are historic groups working to revitalize the route and I hope they are able to.  It is such a chunk of real Americana.

Yesterday and today, our lives have been touched by several people and I thought today’s post might be a nice shout out.   This list is not all encompassing, but I hope it helps you all realize just what an important part of this trip you all have been.  I would have chickened out if it were not for you.  So thank you.

And the Thank you’s go to:

  • Everyone who helped with a financial donation.  As you know this trip was planned before Mike’s employment situation changed.  We were forced with the tough decision to wait and take the trip at another time (which probably would never have happened) or tough it out with what we had saved and ask for help.  We received the kindest donations, gifts I will NEVER forget.  Thank you for without you, I would have only made it to Chicago and probably not back (kidding,sort of).
  • Everyone who helped with donations of food, camp gear and, most of all advice.  I have been able to save a boatload of money eating the items that were donated and the items I got at Aldi’s.  Shout out to Aldi’s and their Gluten Free items!!  Thank you for your assistance as I was definitely not ready to do any serious camping.
  • Thank you Bryan Farr for sharing your excitement for Historic Route 20.  The enthusiasm was contagious and I caught it!
  • Darlene and the whole crew at AAA Solon who created the Trip Tik I am using and providing information on the area’s I am visiting.
  • Thank you to KOA for making my camping experience tolerable.  As I stated in an earlier post, starting at age 53 with no prior camping experience (okay there was that one time, but talk about a disaster, let’s just forget it ever happened) has proven to be a challenge.  I love the friendly people, the clean facilities, the laundromats and more.  I am a KOA convert!
  • Thank you Brittiny Morrison (fellow Ohioan) and Barb Jensen Elmlinger for all your help trying to connect me with the right people in Buffalo, Wyoming.  I will be back!!  And to Craig Johnson who introduced me (not personally) to Buffalo.
  • The great folks at Lemon Cove for giving the great tour!  Thank you for everything!
  • Everyone who is reading these posts.  I know sometimes I am so serious and not quite humorous enough, but I am working on that.  I want to write things that come from the heart and apparently my heart is rather serious (who knew).
  • This is a Supernatural shout out.  I have a Supernatural bumper sticker on my car (it says “Driver picks the music. Shotgun shuts his cakehole.”).  In all the time I have had that sticker I have only met one other SN fan as we are few and far between.  On the way to Newport, Oregon a car sped by us and when I looked over they were showing a picture in the window which I could not quite make out. As they pulled in front of me I saw the picture was of them with Jensen Ackles and Jared Padelecki of Supernatural.  You guys made my day.  We honked and waved and they drove off.  One of life’s little pleasures!
  • Last but not least, thank you Devi.  Devi is a comfortable car to drive and sleep in.  She carries my stuff and lets me always have a place to eat.  She is my traveling buddy and I appreciate all her extremely hard work!!  Love you Girl!

There are so many people to thank, I just wanted to list a few off the top of my head.  I will be listing more because this trip has actually become more about me and about the connections I am making with wonderful people.  Okay, it is still about me but I am seeing the value in opening up, losing the shy routine and finding out other people’s stories.  Everyone has a story, they just need someone to listen to it.

Great pictures coming.  This is proving challenging for me, but I will post some cool pics very soon.  Thank you again for your support and for listening.

Day 9 – Mount Shasta, California to Lemon Cove, California

The adventure is continuing.  More mountain driving, and some very busy California road driving.  I realize that maybe California is not for me.  It is a lovely state with lovely people, but they drive way too fast and way too wild for this country girl.

So with all the drive time today, I thought of a Top Ten List of things I have learned so far.  Maybe this list will help others who are interested in doing a trip such as this:

10.  Never leave gummy vitamins in the glove box of your car in 90 to 100 degree weather.  My vitamins all melted into one big glob that I cannot even spoon out unless I reheat them.  Lesson Learned.

9.  O’Reilly’s, Walmart and any Dollar Store are your friends.  Yesterday, the check engine light went on in Devi.  Had Mike not been with me, it might have been the straw that broke my back.  He was able to diagnose the problem and saved the day.  But you never know when you are going to need an auto part, a first aid item or any number of things that you might have forgotten.  Forget the politics of the stores, they can be lifesavers in an emergency.

8.  Car camping in a Walmart parking lot is not quite the delight you might think it is.  I could barely sleep for all the random people just walking in the parking lot after midnight (mind you the store we slept at was not 24 hours, so they were closed).  There were skateboarders up until about 2 am and a car circled us for a while around 3 am.  They kept lighting something…a bowl maybe.  But it was downright scary and I do not think I am going to do that again.

7.  KOA (Kampgrounds of America) are a great resource for either tent camping or for sleeping in one of the adorable cabins.  We have been doing the cabins lately because I am just too old to sleep on the ground.  The price is better than a hotel; you have to walk to a bathroom and shower and it is not as luxurious as a hotel but for the cost difference it can mean an extra nice meal once in a while.

6.  Laundromats are a haven.  I never knew clean clothes were such a pleasure until you go a few days.  The task I felt was drudgery at home is now a gift.  Plus the time alone doing laundry is true “Me” time.

5.  Trust your gut.  Everyone says it, but it is so true.  Your instincts know when something is not right.  If you feel it, get the heck out.  If you feel really good, stay.  Today on the road I had a bad feeling and I did not stop until I was out of the place that made me uneasy.  Nothing probably would have happened, but it is not worth the risk.

4.  Simple food is the very best!!  I always wanted to try an In ‘N Out Burger (saw them on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives).  When I pulled up to the drive through, there are four main menu items; nothing fancy.  It was a great burger (gluten and all).  I appreciated the simplicity and the fact that every order is cooked to order.  Simple is the BEST!!

3.  Generally, people are animal lovers.  Today on a crowded California highway, a cat ran across the road and almost all traffic stopped including an 18-wheeler. Glad to report that the cat is okay and there were no car accidents either.

2.  When figuring travel budget, figure out all your costs and times them by three.  It is amazing how much everything costs.  I was truly unprepared (and I ain’t living large).  Money shortages can ruin a trip.

  1.  Mountain driving is not for the weak of heart.  There are sheer drops, insane grades up and down the mountain roads and your car may not like it either.  I found out, on this trip, that some states have mandated the use of ethanol in their gas which lowers the gases octane.  This can be very detrimental to a car’s engine.  I was lucky with Devi, but there was a 10% grade (doesn’t sound like much right — wrong!!) that almost blew her engine in the middle of absolutely nowhere.  Find out what your car can do before attempting mountain driving.

I hope this lists helps you as you think of your own Epic Journey.  These are things I will definitely consider on my next one.  It is rough out there, be prepared!!!

Day 8- Reality Check-Please Accept My Apologies

Welcome to Day 8 of my Epic Journey.  Yesterday, I met my goal of seeing the Pacific Ocean.  It was even better than I had anticipated.  I cannot believe that I am sitting in Newport,Oregon watching the waves crash, listening to nature’s music and I feel the healing force from the ocean. I am so thankful for this journey.

Unfortunately, I think this particular chapter has to close.  This trip taught me so many things that I did not know.  I realize now that you can make lists, read books and plan but when the reality hits it is usually way different than what you expected.

I started this trip to learn what I did not know.  Some of the things I came looking for I did not find and I will continue looking in the next chapter of this trip.  Other things I never expected to know have become like friends to me.  The learning process is different for everyone, this much I know, and my experience with learning has always been somewhat slower than most.

I realize now that I started this journey to run away from the things in life that I no longer wanted to deal with.  Today, my reality check is that I have to return and take care of those things, face them head on, and then free myself from the burdens.  If I just run away, I am not dealing with anything and, therefore, I can never find true peace.

I also realize that the next chapter has to be planned out better.  The reality of the costs of living on the road are so much more than I expected.  I figured gas, food and lodging on a scale that might be reminiscent of the 1970s.  Today’s costs are so much more and money just flies out the window.  Without the support of friends and people I have yet to meet, I could not have made it to here. I will be eternally grateful for the support.  I could go on and run out of money along the way with no way to get home or to live or I can take what is left, add to it and be smarter next time.

My ability to car camp did not meet my expectations in the slightest.  At 53 years old with no real camping experience, I expected to live in my car for up to eight weeks.  My body physically cannot handle it.  I now know pains that have never reared their head before.  This trip needs more physical training, like a marathon.  My flabby, undisciplined body was not ready for this reality. I need to make a more realistic plan for sleeping and finding a sleep position that works in a car.

The night before last I slept in a Walmart parking lot (my first attempt at that) in Spokane, Washington.  I had it all figured out how it would be and when I got there the reality was much different.  Suffice it to say, I got very little sleep which made the next day’s travels very difficult.  Every decision while living on the road impacts all the next decisions you make.  If you do not get enough sleep, driving is downright hazardous down the line.  I have to have a better way to sleep than I planned for on this trip.

The idea of driving seemed to me to be a relaxing activity.  I was extremely incorrect yet again.  The stress and grueling reality hit when on Day 1 I got lost in Chicago,almost wrecked six times and practically ran out of gas in the middle of an extremely busy highway.  That was the kind of stress that takes its toll on one’s health.  I have since gotten lost several other times, one more in Yellowstone.  I never considered that could even happen.  I have GPS, road atlases and Trip Tiks (from AAA).  Yet, the reality is that signing is not always apparent and sometimes split decisions have to be made.  Turns out that split-decision making is not my strongsuit.

Another plan I had was to find a new place to live and start a new life, possibly on a Farmstay.  That plan is still in place but it will have to wait until the next chapter.  The reality of just starting a new life and doing something that I have never done before was thought too romantically in my mind.  Maybe if I was 20 years old, but not today.  I still want a simpler, more organic life but I have an old, pre-existing life that needs dealt with first.  I have some options for more local volunteer and farmstay experiences.  Baby steps seem to be the correct path at this point.

So it is with much sorrow that I head home today with my tail between my legs.  I realize that this trip was not so much a failure as it was a learning curve.  I have not left home in years, even for a weekend, and I expected to live on the road for up to eight weeks.  I thought I was more of a realist than that.  I really wanted this to work, I had a lot of people who were behind me and I did not want to disappoint them (and I hope that I did not).  But I think the funding, time and resources would be better served if I could use the knowledge from this trip and apply it to the next trip.

Time to come clean with another thing, early on the panic attacks were pretty strong.  Mike joined me, with the intent of making sure I was safe and that I did not Thelma and Louise it off a cliff.  The concept that I was supposed to be so brave doing this trip went right out the window when I had to have help. I tried to be that heroic person, but I was ill-prepared this time out.  I am sorry to all of you who are dissappointed.

I dismissed the glances from friends and family that said I was crazy, they were right I was crazy to think that something this gigantic would work the first time out of the gate.  Just because I dreamed of this trip since I was 15, does not mean I was ready.  The situation I am in now shows how un-ready I truly was.

Where do I go from here other than back to Ohio?  I take what I learned and keep blogging (hopefully, you all will still be interested), I re-invent a new plan which will end up with real results not just pipe dreams and I continue to journey on my Epic Journey in different ways than I had ever imagined.

There are so many things I have learned that I still want to write to you about.  I hope you are not too disappointed with me and I hope and pray that you will join me for Chapter 2 of my Epic Journey.  I honestly could never have gotten this far without you.  I appreciate and love you all!!

Day 6 – Onward and Westward

Devi and the cabin I stayed in last night in Buffalo, Wyoming.

Devi and the cabin I stayed in last night in Buffalo, Wyoming.

Okay, here is the newest plan…head west again.  I really want to see the Pacific Ocean and I am this close.  If I turn back now, I will never forgive myself.  The respite in Buffalo, Wyoming was much needed.  Who would have guessed that a trip like this would be so tiring.

Many amazing things have happened since I started this trip just six days ago.  I have met wonderful people from all around the country.  While in Buffalo, I met a young lady who transplanted from my home state of Ohio.  It really is a small world!

Another amazing thing is the Internet.  I think we all take it for granted, but being able to connect (when you have a connection) is amazing.  Keeping in touch with friends and family is truly priceless.

The interior of the Busy Bee Cafe.

The interior of the Busy Bee Cafe.

While I have been on the road, I have heard from people from Kentucky and Alaska about volunteer opportunities.  How cool is that!!  I have people reading my blog from several foreign countries.  The concept just blows me away.  I never, in my life, would have thought that anyone, anywhere would have ever read anything I have written.  It is good to be connected.

This trip has taken so many twists and turns since I first started thinking about it when I was 15 (today I am 53, so it has been a while).  I do not think the re-planning is over.  I may have to change it up a bit.  I do not believe I will be able to physically take the entire around the country portion in one shot.  It will have to be done in stages, but that is okay.  It is not another failure on my “resume.”  It is just a change to a plan.

Downtown Buffalo, Wyoming.  It is an adorable town!!

Downtown Buffalo, Wyoming. It is an adorable town!!

Today, I reserve my expectations to see what unfolds and leave the disappointment in the rear view mirror.  Today, I try to be part romantic and part realist; someone who can dream a little yet still hold tight to what needs done.  I say that as I am doing a load of laundry at the KOA.  Somehow I thought the drudgery of life would be something I left behind during this trip (not very realistic, I know).  Today, the idea of a shower and clean clothes seems more like a luxury than a drudgery.  I guess it is all perspective.

Anyway, I appreciate all of you who are reading this blog and for all your support.  I am going to try to keep moving forward and learn about myself and learn about others.

Thank you for everything!!  I feel so blessed today!!

Day 2 – Dubuque, Iowa to O’Neill, Nebraska and Day 3 – O’Neill Nebraska to Buffalo, Wyoming

Somewhere in Iowa.  Big Sky, beautiful country!

Somewhere in Iowa. Big Sky, beautiful country!

Today I am going to combine Days 2 and 3, not because there is not much to say (there is so much to talk about) but I do not want to get too far behind.  I have to admit that this trip has taken some twists and turns, some I anticipated and some I never saw coming.  All my research and reading about car camping did not prepare me for the reality of it all.  I thought I could adapt a little easier than I have….it is still a work in progress.  I am enjoying it but lack of sleep, time changes and weather changes have really thrown me for a loop.  Oh well, all part of traveling on a budget!!

Traveling Route 20 instead of highways has been a blessing!

Traveling Route 20 instead of highways has been a blessing!

I cannot believe how beautiful Iowa is.  I remember driving through it as a teenager and all you could see were pigs and corn.  My adult eyes now see lovely, large fields of life-giving corn and soybeans.  Amazing green lush carpets of vegetation.  Peaceful scenery and huge blue skies.  Iowa, you surprised me!

One disappointment in Iowa (and it was not Iowa’s fault).  As a big Frank Lloyd Wright fan, I was thrilled to find one of his homes (The Walter Estate) in Cedar Rock.  Unfortunately, I was closed.  I was going to jump the fence but figured I did not have enough bail money if I got caught.

Nebraska's overwhelming scenery

Nebraska’s overwhelming scenery

I just drove through Nebraska, but the scenery was truly breathtaking.  The foothills in the distance, the high altitude and the overwhelming views from every angle took me by surprise.

I Love LONGMIRE!

I Love LONGMIRE!

Next stop Wyoming…I am in love with Buffalo, Wyoming and I will tell all next time.  I promise to have more stories and pictures next time.  I am learning to adapt to areas without Wi-Fi and typing in the car.  I am an old school typist and I seem to take up lots of room when I type 😦  I thought I would just pop into a Starbucks along the way and update the blog, but I have yet to see one since I left Illinois.

Thank you for your support!!!