I-80:  A very long road! August 29, 2015

House rented out – check

Motorhome loaded up and I do mean loaded! – check

Point this baby East and we’re off on our ’round the country trip. – check!
We’ve been looking forward to this trip for a couple of years. We’ve done smaller trips to the Southwest and Oregon, with the longest being about six weeks. This trip will be six months or more. The rig is home for now.

The motorhome is 33 feet long. Not huge, but not small either. It has a lot of storage (one of the main reasons we purchased a Tiffin Allegro) and most of it is full. Since this isn’t a “camping” trip per se; it’s a touring trip, we needed a larger variety of clothes. Warm for New England in the Fall and cool for the month or more in Florida. And a girl’s gotta have her various shoes, purses and jewelry along!

The first day we left a little later than we expected (11:00 am) and drove 311 miles and spent the night in a rest area in Nevada (which allows overnight stays). We don’t mind dry camping (no elect, water, sewer) and free is always good for us!

Second day we started out at 7:00 am and drove 400+ miles and stopped at Rock Springs, Wyoming. We overnighted at the Sweetwater County Fairgrounds in the dry camping area for $10. We had the area to ourselves except for the beautiful horses that are stabled there. The campground has 1000 sites because there are many rodeos and a race track at the fairgrounds. We definitely enjoyed our stay there. Lots of room to walk around the beautiful grounds and flowers. Didn’t have to unhook the car and that is always a plus!

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Sweetwater County Fairgrounds

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When I moved to California in 1979 and made that drive from Michigan in a 15 foot U-Haul, towing my 1976 white Grand Pix (with the red leather interior!), I swore that I would NEVER make that drive again. And I kept my word to myself, until now. I know it’s only the third day, but it hasn’t been bad at all. We have our own bed (no nasty motels) our own food and all the electronic gadgetry that a person would want. One thing to be said for staying on the interstates is that you have great cell service almost everywhere. So I can search for the best gas prices with Gas Buddy, find the kind of overnight spots we like using ALLStays, and best of all…I can pee whenever I want! On the other hand, Ralph is like a camel! He can drive all day without stopping. He must have a huge bladder! Maybe it’s a guy thing.
The third day we left Rock Springs for Kimball, Nebraska (just east of Cheyenne) for an overnight stay at the Oliver Reservoir| Recreation Park for another night of free camping and a water view.

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Fourth day…are we there yet??? This is a long freakin drive! I (Rochelle) drove some today. It’s weird looking out your window and being at eye level with a trucker. And man, there are SO many trucks on I 80. Every time one passed me I’d freak a little. I need to drive a little everyday so I become more comfortable. We stayed at Pawnee Lake Recreation Area just west of Lincoln, Nebraska. The campground was nearly empty. Very green and views of Pawnee Lake. Twenty-five dollars here and we have electric hookups. Good thing – because the weather is very warm and somewhat humid, so we put that electricity to good use for the air conditioning.

Fifth day was a wet one. I find I actually enjoy rain now that it is a novelty for me. We drove a little over 300 miles to Iowa City, Iowa. We camped at an Army Corp of Engineers campground about 4 miles north of Iowa City. This is the “Bridges of Madison County” area. We are not going to try to find the bridges on this stop. The countryside is green, rolling hills. There are several small campgrounds in the area of Coralville Lake, which is a water management lake. We were able to use our National Senior Park Pass and get a full hook-up site for only $13 (half price with our pass). It is right on the Iowa River. Imagine walking on a 375 million year old ocean floor. That’s what we did today. The geologic past was first exposed during the Floods of 1993 at Coralville Lake, then again more were exposed during the Floods of 2008. The fossils and limestone bedrock of the Devonian Fossil Gorge date back almost 200 million years before the dinosaurs! The fossils are marked with numbers so you can find them in the rocks. Cool, eh? We thought so. You just never know what you are going to stumble upon.

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Sixth day’s drive was very short; only 70 miles to Ralph’s friend Rod and Toni’s house in Betterdorf, Iowa (near Davenport). The house is on a canal that leads to the Mighty Mississippi about a half-block away. We are parked in their driveway and will be here for two nights. It was so nice to get up in the morning and not have to pack up and get on the road. It’s been raining on a off for a couple days. But, that didn’t stop us from having a bon fire on the front lawn! Rod has a fire-pit and lots of wood. It’s a very friendly neighborhood and several neighbors came over when they saw the fire. We got a little wet from the sprinkles and when it rained harder, we moved the party to the garage. Midwesterners as I know and love them: always ready for a party no matter the weather, lively conversations and a lot of laughing. The most serious discussion of the evening? Gas vs electric golf cart. A pretty serious thunder storm went through sometime in the middle of the night. I’m getting accustomed to the sound of raindrops on the fiberglass roof and after dealing with the drought in CA, I’m grateful for the rain and moisture in the air.
Oh happy day tomorrow! We are headed to Madison, Wisconsin and as luck would have it, my bestie, Leslie is visiting from Amsterdam and I will get to spend face-to-face time with her for the first time in over a year. We will stay in a county campground in Columbus, Wisconsin for two or three nights. Then we will head north to Door Country and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. For 28 years I lived in Michigan and never travelled to the UP. Now’s the time…

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