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Day 15 – Whittier, North Carolina to Beckley, West Virginia

An Epic Journey

Hitting the open road in beautiful North Carolina! Hitting the open road in beautiful North Carolina!

Well, today was a great day!  After a wonderful night sleep, I enjoyed a wonderful breakfast with Mike and Jan and a drive around town.  The Francis Family treated us like we were family and we had just met last night.  We felt so honored to be able to be part of the family for the time we where there.  Seeing Jan again was absolutely awesome and she is an inspiration to me. I am going to start working out so the next time we see Jan, we can go for a hike.  She will still be able to out-hike me, but I want to keep up a little bit. 🙂

We visited a little longer, then headed north (finally!) toward home.  We knew that we would not make it all the way to Ohio, but we knew we would get close.

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Day 4 — Yellowstone National Park

The water in Yellowstone is amazingly blue and so beautiful.

The water in Yellowstone is amazingly blue and so beautiful.

Now for my trip from Buffalo, Wyoming into Yellowstone National Park.  I was excited because of all the wonderful things I heard about the park.  Getting there was a lot harder than I had anticipated.  The mountain grades were so hard on the car and I was just not experienced enough to know how to drive them.  The scenery was breathtaking, there is no doubt about that, but so was the drive.

Mike had purchased for me, online, a National Parks pass which allowed me into the park for nothing which was quite nice.  I can always visit other National Parks for a year.  It is a great idea if you are thinking about visiting a few National Parks.

From the entrance to the exit was a line of bumper to bumper cars, vans, motor homes, buses and trucks.  I would assume that if I had actually had a plan for seeing the park, instead of just winging it, things may have gone smoother.  But as it was, I was panicked from all the traffic and was not able to enjoy the sights as much as would have liked.

My advice; if you want to see Yellowstone, have a plan.  Do not just show up and expect to have the time of your life.  There are a lot of people visiting at any given time and it can be overwhelming to be in such crowds.

On the way out of the park,I got turned around yet again and ended up on a dirt road (and I use the term road loosely).  It was really a path that a car could fit on.  Then all these large SUVs appeared out of nowhere going really fast.  It was like a scene out of “Men in Black”.  I soon realized after quite a bit of time on this path that there was a very swanky restaurant on the road and that is where the SUVs were headed.

The road finally spit me out in Jackson, Wyoming.  I was so exhausted from white knuckle driving all day, I luckily found a lovely camp ground in Victor, Wyoming and spent the night.

My observations on Yellowstone are probably not that of most.  I had not made a plan and it really did not work this time due to all the people and vehicles in the park.  Planning is imperative for this type of trip and if you plan, I am sure the experience will be better.

After yet another crying session, wondering if I have done the right thing, I decided to go back to Buffalo, Wyoming.  I really liked the town and wish I would have stayed there instead of going to Yellowstone.  Lesson learned.

I took I-90 back so as to miss he huge mountains and give Devi a little bit of a break.  It was a lovely ride back and it did a lot to calm my nerves.  As I got back into Buffalo, I stopped into the KOA I stayed at a couple nights before and I was EXTREMELY lucky to find out they had a cabin available.  A cabin was just what I needed to regroup and rethink.

Thank you to Shawn and Mickie, the hosts at the Buffalo KOA, and the entire staff for saving my sanity and giving me a place to shower, wash some clothes and basically just chill out.

This trip is much more grueling than I had anticipated and I am going to take another day to rethink things. I will let you know what I come up with!!  Thank you for listening!!

Day 1 – Cleveland to Dubuque, Iowa

Day 1 – Cleveland to Dubuque, Iowa

Finally, I get to start writing about the trip. Here goes:

Well, my first couple of days were a mixed bag for sure:

Thought I was downsizing, seems like an awful lot of stuff to take.

Thought I was downsizing, seems like an awful lot of stuff to take.

I was planning on leaving Saturday, July 25 but I got a late start, so Sunday ended up being my new launch date. The plan stood to get from home past Gary, Indiana and Chicago, Illinois and then somewhere after that. The ride to Gary, Indiana was lovely, the weather was great. I was feeling very optimistic about my latest life choice. Then I took a wrong turn and was stuck in Chicago traffic for over an hour. Not just traffic, but stop and go and almost get hit a few times traffic. I was freaking out and was low on gas (my bad!). I do not know how I got so turned around. Sammi, my GPS, was just about as confused as I was. I considered turning around and going home but I did not.

A gift from my friends and a great way to start my trip!

A gift from my friends and a great way to start my trip!

I got to Dubuque, Iowa at the end of the day. I had a city campgrounds in mind but could not find it because of lack of signage. But I called the number and the camp host came right over to get me. He was awesome and put me close to the front. The temperature was very hot so I rolled the windows down and quickly taped up some screens Mike had made me to keep bugs out and cool breezes in. It worked perfectly. As the sun went down, the temperature went down also. No sounds but the songs of crickets, passing traffic and the melodic sounds of a faraway train. This semi-outside experience was a first for me.

My view from my very first campsite!  Very close to the water!!

My view from my very first campsite! Very close to the water!!

Unlike at home, there was no television, no loud refrigerator, and no other household noises. Just the sounds of nature and a little traffic. It was so incredibly peaceful. I have yet to be in peace mode, I am still in stress mode, but it will come to me. Soon I hope!!

Devi did a great job camping!!

Devi did a great job camping!!

As far as car camping, I have never done it but I had an “idea” of how it should go. Boy, was I wrong. I struggled with getting comfy, staying cool, trying to get undressed, eating (dinner last night was snacks given to me by a friend) and generally getting used to sleeping in a SUV down by the river (yes, I was really next to the Dubuque River). I fought and struggled for a couple of hours, but then got my “blankie” out of storage and my pillow and drifted into dream land. Just needed some comforting items.

I never realized how beautiful Iowa is!!

I never realized how beautiful Iowa is!!

Unlike at home, there was no television, no loud refrigerator, and no other household noises. Just the sounds of nature and a little traffic. It was so incredibly peaceful. I have yet to be in peace mode, I am still in stress mode, but it will come to me. Soon I hope!!

Amazing Iowa Sky!

Amazing Iowa Sky!

I learned a lot last night and feel like I am well on the road to becoming a car camper aficionado or not. This morning I woke up reorganized the car and started on my way to Nebraska.

Just a cool bridge -- looks like modern art.

Just a cool bridge — looks like modern art.

As I think back on the last few days, I am very impressed with how beautiful this country is.  The corn fields of Iowa are amazing but also feed us and feeds the farm animals,  fuel our vehicles and have been known to be a main part of certain adult beverages.  Corn as far as the eye can see and it was truly stunning.

Sammi, my Garmin.  She can be chatty at times :-)

Sammi, my Garmin. She can be chatty at times 🙂

It Is Not Goodbye, But See You Soon!!

Had a few delays, just finishing a couple last minute things and I will be off to start my adventure.  Love you all!!  Thank you for your support and all your kindnesses!!

A beautiful prayer for travel:

May it be Your will, Lord my God, to lead me on the way of peace and guide and direct my steps in peace, so that You will bring me happily to my destination, safe and sound. Save me from danger on the way. Give me good grace, kindness and favor in both Your eyes and in the eyes of all whom I may meet. Hear this my prayer, for you are a God who hears to the heart’s supplication and communion.Blessed are You, Lord our God, who hears prayer. Amen

Okay…Big World Here I Come!!!

Great Hamburger Alert!! Tallmadge, Ohio

An Epic Journey

Part of my Epic Journey is to find great hamburgers at great local places.  Found one today, right here at home!!

I did not create this hamburger image but I am respectfully using it for my post.  Looks really good by the way! I did not create this hamburger image but I am respectfully using it for my post. Looks really good by the way!

Just traveling through Tallmadge, Ohio today and Stopped at Sammie’s Bar and Grill (see link below to their website).  Great place!!  The setting is lovely, quiet and inviting.  The burger was cooked to perfection and way more than I could eat (and I got the smaller sized one).  Great french fries too!!  Mike had the Cod and he said it was awesome!!  Mike, our server, was the best and gave us good advice about the menu!!  Overall, I would recommend Sammie’s to anyone looking for a really good meal!!

Sammies Bar and Grill

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Let Go and Let God — Easier Said Than Done

An Epic Journey

If only I could live these words... If only I could live these words…

A strange phenomenon has begun in my life since I seriously started planning my Epic Journey. I have lost my ability to sleep through the night even with large shots of NyQuil, I bite my nails more than I ever did (nasty habit, I know), I am extremely anxious and overwhelmed. I started planning this trip to rid myself of these anxiety-related problems. Now I have them worse than before. My stress levels are through the roof.

As with many people, the last few years have been very stressful. That is nothing unique to me, everyone I know is stressed. But one day I decided to finally act on something I had been thinking about for many years and start planning my Epic Journey. I thought just knowing that my life needed some changes and that I was going to be proactive would…

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Off Topic…A Busy News Week

An Epic Journey

This is not my photograph, I am respectfully borrowing it for my post. This is not my photograph, I am respectfully borrowing it for my post.

I try not to write about politics or religion because I am not that qualified in the subjects that I can speak intelligently. Also, I realize that my opinion is not the opinion of everyone and we have enough people who spout their opinions freely. But these last few weeks have me wanting to voice my opinion, this one time.

I am outraged about the hateful debate about the Confederate Flag. I abhor that this country allowed slavery; The Land of the Free should never have allowed that to happen. I believe most Americans feel the same way. I am truly sorry it happened, but is it not time to start looking at what is happening today? It is estimated in the United States alone there are up to 17,500 (number is probably higher) people sold into…

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“Too much time on my hands, It’s ticking away with my sanity…” Written by Tommy Shaw (Styx)

An Epic Journey

The clock clicks ever slowly when one anticipates a major change. The clock clicks ever slowly when one anticipates a major change.

A wise friend once told me that only boring people get bored. I always agreed with that statement until now, because right now I am so utterly bored and I do not believe it is because I am boring. I have been planning my Epic Journey on and off for approximately 37 years. I have wished and wanted for this trip, anything to get out of the rut my life so conveniently fit into right from the start.

During the last few months it looked like the dream might come true and planning began. The exhilaration from this trip finally happening has been amazing. Then one thing by another has tried to rain on the parade that is my journey; financial setbacks, illness, self-doubt…you name it. I am trying to stay positive, which is not in my nature. I…

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“Money, so they say, is the root of all evil today.” Written by Roger Waters (Pink Floyd)

An Epic Journey

The contents of my wallet. The contents of my wallet.

Money is my least favorite subject to talk about. As I have grown older, I find that I am starting to detest money and all it stands for. When I was younger, I wanted everything I saw. I would see something shiny and pretty and I knew it would be the one thing that would absolutely make me happy. When it did not make me totally filled with ecstasy, I would go looking for the next shiny and pretty thing. I was born with an unhealthy relationship to money. I acquired many useless and senseless items in my life. In turn, I became a small cog in a really big economic machine that relied on me, and those like me, to run up large amounts of debt that could never be paid off and then the big machine charged, us cogs, horrendous interest rates just…

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Destination: Erie, Pennsylvania

In an attempt to pump up my driving stamina, Mike planned a day trip for me to drive, destination unknown, using only our new GPS. This way I would have to rely on the GPS to get me where we were going to. It was a great plan because generally, I only drive about 10 miles a day back and forth from work. As the trip date advances, I need to be able to handle long driving days.

As we started out on my mystery tour, we drove past a fun little diner in Geneva. Mary’s Diner was right there at 666 E. Main Street. Neither of us had ever seen this place before, so we made a detour for a light dinner. It has the look and feel of an old diner with stainless steel everywhere and red booths. Destiny was our server and she helped us make good meal decisions. We had a ball while we were there.

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I have such a love for the old-style diners. That is going to be one of my big searches on my trip. To find as many of them as I can and write about them. I do not want to lose that bit of Americana to all the big chain restaurants. I love diners and I want to support them as much as I can.

After our little diner repast, we started back on the road. Using only the GPS, I navigated through a detour, a lot of orange barrels and a few missed turns. Finally about 100 miles from home, we drive into a place I have never been to…Presque Isle State Park in Erie, Pennsylvania.

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The sun was starting to set, but we still had some daylight, the breezes off the lake were cool and refreshing and everything was green and lush. I have seen Lake Erie from several different locations and I have even been boating once or twice in my life. But the view of Lake Erie from this vantage point was like nothing I had ever seen. Mike explained that it was because of the location of the lake, and a whole lot of other things I did not understand. All I know is it was stunning.

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I am still marveling today at how the very same lake can be so different. The sky was absolutely breathtaking as the clouds formed like little balls of cotton. The beaches were beautiful and well-tended. There are two lighthouses to view along with a lot of wildlife. We saw a crane sitting on a rock just looking around.

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Families were frolicking and sportsmen were fishing. It was one of the loveliest drives I have ever taken. The 25 mile an hour posted speed limit was just the right speed for me to drive and still be able to look around. The park is open all year from 5 am until sunset – there are longer driving times in the summer.

The park consists of 3,112 acres of beautiful lush land and many beaches. Presque Isle became a state park in 1921 (according to their website). It is so well taken care of and the atmosphere is very leisurely. Honestly, I am not a great outdoors person. I do not like bugs or sand particularly. But I loved all the walking and biking paths, thinking that maybe with such wonderful scenery I might enjoy actually being outside. The jury is still out on that one.

As a day trip, there is no camping in the park but some nearby, Presque Isle is the kind of place you could easily spend an entire day. Even if you do not swim, like me, you could find a great spot and read or write or just enjoy the beautiful lake, the amazing sky and wonderful beaches. I find it hard to believe that I have lived in this area all my life and have never been to Presque Isle. It just goes to show that there are many hidden gems right in our own backyard or a slight drive from our backyard.

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