Saturday, August 14, 2010

Another Casino Night... At Least I'm Not Losing $$$$

The second day of driving was longer than I had even expected. I'm beginning to lose faith in this Walmart camping idea. For the second night, I went to a Walmart, this time just northwest of Chicago and overnight parking was restricted and no RVs in sigh. Fortunately, I found another casino (Elgin, IL) with a parking lot suitabe for overnighting. Got the privacy curtain up around 12:30 and all was well until I was awoken early in the AM with train horns and a sprinkler pounding against the side of the Element.

The second day included about 13 hours of driving and I'm more than halfway to the Badlands. Met another Boston family headed in the same direction. Asid from glimpses at Lake Erie, the scenery was unspectacular farmsland, and LOTS of it. Driving through Elkhear, IN, I saw the Museum of Recreational Vehicles on I-90. I've included a picture! I was snickering when I thought they don't likely have an Element in their collection!. Also saw a cropduster spraying fields and quickly closed the windows and vents!

Since it was apparent I would make Chicago last evening, I called my son to get a reccommendation of a good place to eat. Dave competed (and won) three college curling Championships while at Hamilton College. He suggested that I stop at Lou Matnali's. They are famous for their deep dish pizza. The sausage pizza did not disappoint! He gave me directions off the Chicago Skyway that put me in the scariest part of the South Side of Chicago. I kep thinking about Dan Akroyd and John Belushi speeding through this neighborhood (no wonder why!) and the song that they performed (South Side Chicago). I turned around and took a less direct, but safer route. Mapquest doesn't figure safety in... A nice renaissance has occurred along the lakefront. Perhaps a destination in itself someday. By plane...

Today it is my goal to reach the easternmost part of South Dakota, which means travelling through Wisconsin and Minnesota. I will be excited to end the day, because tomorrow brings my first destination - The Badlands!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Turning Stone

Hi All! Well you know what they say about the best laid plans. Well, the Walmart that I planned on overnighting in last night was unoccupied. Best to be with others, so I remembered the Turning Stone Casino just west of where Dave went to Hamilton College. Here is a picture this morning with a couple other RV'ers who overnighted there as well!

The privacy curtain worked extremely well! Plenty of darkness so I got a good night's rest.

I'm blogging here from a NY Thruway rest area with free wi-fi. Don't worry Linda, I have a chance to wash up here at the rest area! I know that you are most concerned with my hygiene habits as I travel across the country ;-) I hope to reach Chicago this evening!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Trip Planning

Well with my back feeling better, I'm completing my preparations for my month-long adventure of discovery travelling from Medford, MA to the northern Rocky Mountains. After a push out to South Dakota to the Badlands and Black Hills, I'll be driving northward to Jasper, Alberta. Then over the course of the remainder of the trip, I'll be driving southward along the spine of the Rockies, visiting National Parks as the summer fades and fall begins. I believe that this trip will not only be a adventure of outward discovery, but internal discovery as well. I've never had this time without work and in the best sense of the word, it is a sabbatical. A time for recreation, reflection and renewal.

Never have I encountered such dissonance in the opinions of friends and family. Some are very supportive and understand how these explorations fit within the context of my life. Others are just plain bewildered. A month-long trip... Camping? Just by yourself? Are you crazy?

Planning for the trip began last year, with some customizations to my Honda Element. I have constructed a bed platform so that I can sleep comfortably both on the road and on the campsite. I've added a few additional photos on this post.

In addition to sight-seeing, I plan on incorporating hiking, biking, swimming, kayaking and white water rafting into my trip. I'm bringing along a harmonica as my companion. If I find myself unable to learn it, well, it might be useful to keep the Grizzlies out of my path! Departure is in 5 short days. I've still got plenty of preparations to make! It will be a busy week.

Special thanks to Sharon for burning me 6 CDs of road music to keep me company and to Wendy for pointing out that I shouldn't forget binoculars. Almost did! Don't worry Halalisans, I'll be back in time for the first rehearsal :-)