Day 1, 334 Miles, Dexter Riding Shotgun

The sun has set on the first day of our grand adventure and we are cozied into the WalMart Super Center parking lot in Wilkes Barre, PA.  It was a balmy 55F and raining at 7 AM this morning as I hitched up the camper in Ashland, MA. The experience I gained on the trip home from Chilliwack has all finally meshed and I'm feeling at ease and confident with the procedures. Things went so smoothly in fact, that I had to triple check using my checklists. I thought I must be missing something because it was all just too easy! Dexter was eager to get started and felt right at home in his jump seat in the truck. He has traveled by car to Florida with me twice so he's an old hand at road trips.

We left at 7:45 AM and headed to the Mass Pike (I90). It was still pouring rain but traffic was light.

I stopped at the first rest stop on the highway just to check inside the trailer to be sure all the cupboards had remained closed and all items were secure. I have never had an issue with this trailer, but I remember my Dad doing this in his trailer whenever he repacked.  I like the peace of mind knowing there isn't some object flinging itself around inside the trailer as I drive!

The truck is riding a bit lower than before, which is not surprising since I now have all my craft supplies with me! It's kind of poetic that I parked next to this rig at a rest stop.

I stopped at the Lee, MA rest stop to gas up and it was frigid! The temp had dropped to 34F and there were flurries mixed in with the rain. Granted this was in the Berkshire Mountains, but yikes, I think I'm getting out just in time.

Dexter was very comfortable riding shotgun today. He stayed in his front jump seat for most of the journey today down I90 to I87, then I84 to I81. The temps rose to 45F and the rain stopped an hour before we arrived here in Wilkes Barre, PA. Along I87, I saw two jet black chickens scratching and pecking along the highway embankment. What a crazy sight! There were no houses in sight, so maybe they have escaped captivity and are now free range chickens, or perhaps they just...crossed the road...

A message popped up on the truck today telling me that a brake light has gone out. I'll need to get that fixed when I unhitch the trailer. It's nice that the system in the truck can let you know when there are things that need attention! The brake lights are working fine on the camper so I'm still in good shape.

I met a lovely couple as soon as we arrive here for the night. Matt and Adrianne M. took the grand tour of Wild Thing. They are dreaming of a camper of their own and were impressed with the Escape. She is pretty fine and I do love it when folks show an interest. I love meeting new people!

It's going to be a cold night, down in the low 30's, but we will keep driving south and soon the temps will rise. Dexter and I are comfortable and warm in our cozy little house on wheels.   I have the lounge area set up so he can snuggle while I work on the post!

I'm  tired tonight after all the excitement of the last few days but so happy to be on the road. I'll get a good rest tonight and be ready for what awaits tomorrow!

Belle, First Big Mistake, and Glamping in the Rain

I guess I was more tired yesterday than I realized. After posting, catching up with DH, and having some supper, I dozed through most of the evening, then I slept straight through the night until 7:15 AM. It was a warm 55F last night and raining, which made for good sleeping weather, even in a WalMart parking lot. Once in my camper, I’m in a world of my own so I can be comfortable anywhere. I was on the road by 8 AM and drove 270 miles today to Millpoint RV Park in East Peoria, Il. It rained most of the day so I drove a bit slower (60-65) than I had yesterday (65-70) and found that my mileage increased from 12 mpg yesterday to 13 mpg today. I may be on to something!

I drove from Iowa into Illinois and crossed the mighty Mississippi river on my route today.

At the Spoon River Rest Stop, I met a lovely RV couple, John and Shirley, and their sweet dog Belle. They have a place near Seattle, WA and winter near Quartzite, AZ so it's likely our paths will cross again in the near future! They were interested in seeing Wild Thing so I gave them the grand tour. John said he saw me yesterday driving on the highway and the camper caught his eye so he was glad to run into me and Wild Thing a day later at this rest stop. Trailer folks are so friendly! Belle was so sweet and graciously let me take her picture for the blog!

It was tiring to drive in the constant rain today so I was glad that I was well rested and had planned a short day. Millpoint RV Park sits on Upper Peoria Lake on the Illinois River and I have a shaded pull-through site. I made my first big mistake unhitching today but thankfully, Wild Thing and I are OK.

I haven’t unhitched in a few days so I was trying to be methodical going through the unhitching routine. I put the  X chocks on the wheels and lowered the front landing gear down onto the plastic “lego block” type blocks before opening the hitch lock arm and pulling the truck forward. When I did so, the landing gear slipped off the lego blocks and the landing gear of Wild Thing dropped down 4” to the ground. Yikes,  It was pretty startling, to say the least! The camper did not hit the truck nor was there any damage, but the landing gear feet were now sitting on the soft wet ground and I knew I couldn’t leave them there! I reviewed the routine and realized that I had not locked the hitch arm open with the cotter pin so there must have still been some tension on the locking mechanism of the hitch that caused the issue. Arrrgggghhhh.

After taking a break to think it through, and still my racing heart,  I hitched her back up to the truck, lifted the landing gear (which thankfully were ok), and placed wooden blocks under the landing gear feet (probably a better option in the rain) then lowered the landing gear back down, locked the hitch arm open, and disconnected the truck again. All went without a “hitch” this time! I apparently need a checklist for unhitching as well as hitching although I’m pretty sure I won’t (ever) make that particular mistake again!

I’m so thankful that there was no damage and after talking to my DH, I’m feeling OK. I have tried to be so careful with everything but we are fallible beings, aren’t we? I hate making such a big mistake but I’m hoping by sharing my mishap I’ll help keep someone else from doing the same. I’m sure it won’t be my last error but I’m going to do all I can to keep them to a minimum and hope for small ones in the future. I feel like a new Mom who just dropped her baby on its head! Thankfully, my new baby Wild Thing is strong and resilient and very well built!

I’m now happily “glamping” in my warm and dry Wild Thing as the rain continues outside.  I set up the back bed area to see what that would be like. My dining room table is mounted on a Springfield 3 Stage Pedestal that allows me to leave the table attached to the pedestal and just lower it into position to make the bed.  The lowered table-top is then covered with cushions from the benches and Voila, a second bed.  Adding some extra pillows along the back makes this a comfy “lounge” area. Side tables that flip up on either side give me space for a drink, a book, or my laptop. I’m using the King Jack Antenna to get local digital TV channels (16 here) for free. This is definitely not your Mama’s camping….this is glamorous camping aka Glamping!


I do hope the rain lets up tomorrow enough for me to get out and explore a bit. My travel time is dwindling and I'll be back home in less than a week.

Devils Tower and a Mud Bath

It was a chilly 36F and raining most of last night but my camper stayed warm and dry! After a big breakfast this morning, I set out for Devil's Tower. The clouds were slung low over the hills and the rain continued to fall. As I approached Devil's Tower, it was mostly obscured by low clouds and I feared I would not get a full look at this massive rock. I stopped frequently along the road leading up to the tower to take photos. At one point a flock of Sand Hill Cranes in a V formation flew right in front of the shrouded hill. Spectacular! Their distinctive cries filled the air. They must be heading for warmer weather! The closer I got to the tower, the more the clouds lifted but the rain continued. I struggled to keep my Nikon D5200 dry today and finally draped it with a plastic bag I had in the car. I need to get a rain cover for it when I get home. When I arrived at the foot of the tower, the clouds had lifted enough for me to get some photos. I stepped out of the truck in the visitors center parking lot with my cell phone in a chest pocket of my vest and my Nikon in hand, took two steps and hit a patch of slick mud. My feet went out from under me and I pitched forward smacking my elbows and the camera on the pavement, and rattling my teeth! I thought the Nikon was a goner for sure but thankfully it's a tough piece of equipment and suffered no damage. My cell phone received a small crack in the screen, my elbows were scraped, and I was covered in mud but otherwise OK! The front of my jeans from hip to ankle were caked in mud as was my jacket. Yikes! Well, my pride was hurt more than anything, so after washing up a bit I got back to enjoying the day. Despite the poor weather I managed to get some interesting shots of Devil's Tower and the surrounding landscape. A nice young man, Andrew, took my photo in front of the monument. Thank you, Andrew! As I walked up the path to the Tower, a man was playing his Native American Flute and I got a few seconds of video. It was so beautiful to hear that flute while gazing at the sacred hill that I didn't think to turn on the camera until he was almost done.... What a gift! I also captured a few shots of deer today. They are as plentiful here as crows are back home. They graze openly in the fields and stroll across the road unfazed by traffic, but will startle and duck for cover if they hear a vehicle stop (to take a photo!). I did catch one beautiful doe standing right by the road and a couple of bucks in a field using my 300 mm lens. Enjoy the photos!

My mud adventure encouraged me to take care of my laundry this afternoon so that chore is all caught up. 2.00/washer and 1.50/dryer here at Mountain View. This is a nice clean facility with new appliances.

Tonight it's predicted to freeze (27F) and possibly snow but it should warm up to the mid 40's during the day tomorrow. I have unhooked the external water hose and will use water from my freshwater tank instead. I also turned on the heat pads to help keep the water system in the trailer from freezing tonight.

Tomorrow I plan to drive to Mt Rushmore which is about 1.5 hours away.  I'm hoping for sun!


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