It really is wonderful to have a true friend upon whom one can call for practicle help, no matter what.
It really is wonderful to have a true friend upon whom one can call for practicle help, no matter what.
On the first day I enjoyed driving at my leisure over country roads in the southwest corner of MO, and into OK. Detoured past the Lake O' The Cherokees and ended up staying in Jay on US-59. Lovely little town. Took my time to go up and down the main street, before settling in for the night.
Without a camera, I lost the motivation to make detailed notes of routes and places. Was just out to enjoy myself. Next day I meandered slowly down scenic OK-10/82, and side roads, past another State Park and more Lakes. Rarely a truck to be seen. I was in my element. That night I stopped at a truck stop in Sallisaw. Spent some more time in southern OK much of it around US-259 and in the Ardmore region. It really is a pity that those who stick to the interstates miss out on the gems one sees along the way - small towns, unique shops and rural scenery.
After crossing into TX at Denison, it was over lunch that I got to chat with a local couple. They told me for scenic routes I should look for the FM highways - these are the old highways which the farmers used. They go through small settlements. past ranches, and some magnificent buildings. Unfortunately, I was not able to find many, but did enjoy those I found.
It was an urgent need for someone to look at my fridge that saw me heading for DFW. The weather was now quite warm, even though it was only mid May. Fortunately, after two referals, I found a gentleman who looked at the fridge, found a loose wire under the bonnet, and fixed it in a couple of minutes and did not charge me. By now I had spent a couple of nights around the city, and was finding the heat quite oppressive. It was time to re-assess my plans.
US-287 took me to Childress where I picked up US-83 north. I had noted that it heads all the way north to the Dakotas and the Canadian border. I was eager to get out of the heat. It ended up being a good and interesting highway, with a sprinkling of heavy transport, but not enough to take away the enjoyment. In KS I took a detour to Dodge City. Had been there before, but just wanted to check it out again. Besides, there is a great truck stop!
When I got to I-90, I headed east to St Paul, to visit friends. Had an enjoyable and relaxing time with them, that last week of May. Spent much of our time doing jigsaw puzzles. Things were starting to look up.
A State I have traversed numerous times, mostly on I-94, since I seemed always to be on my way to/from the east coast. Now for once I was not heading for the east coast, and had the time to see something of the State.
First night was at Roberts, after spending some time stopping at the various shopping malls and other places east of St Paul, Next day I spent taking my time to Black River Falls, again stopping at places off the interstate. My choice all along I-94 was FJ/Pilot truck stops. Feel very much at home at them. But it was the next night which saw me with a new experience. It was at the Pilot at Mauston. I had as always, introduced myself to the manager on duty and settled down for the night. It had been a good day driving, and I was ready to retire. I was reading my book, when there was a knock on the van.
At first I ignored it, but when it came several times, and I was made aware that it was the police, I went to find out was was up. I sat in the driver's seat, and opened the window, to be told by a lovely policeman, that my vehicle had been reported as a suspicious vehicle - late at night with lights on. (It was not even 10pm.) I am sure he was not expecting to see me in my PJs when I answered his knock. After a lengthy discussion with this gentleman (who I am sure had better things to do) he was satisfied that I was not dealing drugs. I invited him to come round to the side door and see for himself, but he chose to take my word for it. I gave the policeman my card, which has all my details on it. First time in all these years that I have been reported as a suspicious vehicle.
Wisconsin had more in store for me. When I got to FJ at South Beloit, my van would not start, when I went to move it from near the building to the preferred parking area. Assuming this was a left over of the trouble weeks earlier, we decided to add more "medicine" to the fuel, and see what happened in the morning. It started, and went OK....... for a few miles. Suddenly I felt the engine cut out, and since I was in the right lane, near a driveway, instinctively turned into the driveway. The vehicle rolled till it was completely off the road, but without the engine, there was no power steering, and I feared I was going to hit a brick wall in front of me. When I looked up, I found I had tunred into the drive of The Beloit Daily News. It was while I was waiting for the AAA, and heard a train come through, that I realised I was metres from a rail crossing. Someone up high was looking after me.
I had planned to take WI-11 to Dubuque, for lunch with my friend. My van was taken to the AAA preferred repairers, and friend decided that she would come to pick me up, as I was not able to stay in the van that night. Having missed lunch, we had dinner at her place. Next day, when I had been assured that my van was fine with a new alternator, she drove me all the way back to Beloit, telling me that she could not imagine having to stay in a place not knowing anyone, and not having made any plans. In all she drove some 400 miles and would not even allow me to pay when she had to fill the tank.
I do love reading your stuff, and I was going to say "breaking down is always the worst" but of course it's not. However it is stressful. Since I swapped to the van I abandoned my towing policy, you're making me think I should buy another. Also I renew my insurance every 6 months, due Jan 20th, but I'm wondering if I should just do a fire and theft thing and insure proper in June.
As you know you were my guiding hand when I started this and your recent experiences have made me think driving an older vehicle is very cost effective but I must be more prepared for challenges. Re theft + plus a tendency to be absent minded and just leave things, I tend to leave most stuff in the van, (comes with other risks but I think lesser ones).
My next stop was to be Chicago, or more exactly Orland Park, where I had a luncheon appointment with friends on Saturday. That gave me two and a half days to get to the restaurant.
Back on local route 11, I first headed for Monroe where there is a great cheese place - Baumgartner. Bought some cheese to give to my friend and had a lovely lunch. Then learned about all the dollars on the ceiling, and of course I too had to add one. There's a real knack to getting it to stick up there - and great applause when it does. They all go to some good cause at the end of the year.
Continued on to Dubuque, and took the Great River Road south to Davenport. Next day I took US-6 towards Chicago, a lovely drive, to make sure I would be on time the next day, remembering Chicago traffic. We had a lovely lunch in a restaurant where there was also a brewery. Very nice and interesting, in great company.
By now my friend in St Paul had notified me that my new credit card had arrived, so I needed to head back to St Paul. After lunch on that Saturday I headed back to Sth Beloit, and next day shot straight up I-94 to St Paul. Did not stay, just had a cuppa, and back to the FJ at Roberts for the night.
It was while waiting to be served that a lady came up to me, and asked if the van outside the front door was mine. She had seen the flag on the rear window, and introduced herself. Some 20 years ago she married a US citizen, who was then living in Australia. She invited me to her place for the night. It was a few miles away, and I followed her home. Set on 8 acres the modest house was preceded by two large flag poles - one with the US flag and one with the Australian flag. I met all the family, Dad, two older boys 19 and 16, twin girls 13 and two little ones, 6 and 18 months. Seemed that there was much she wanted to catch up on, though she has megular trips back to what she still considers home. It was quite late when we said goodnight. With that full house, I chose to sleep in the van.
Breakfast was early, as my hostess had a busy day ahead of her. I took my time meandering the scenic roads of rural Wisconsin - WI-64/US-63/WI-70 to Manistique, where there was reported to be a large Shell truck stop, with a great view. I could not find it, so stopped in at the BP to ask, only to be told it used to be Shell, but has been BP for more than three years. The internet had not yet caught up. Oh well!!?
Glad to see things are going smoother. It must of been nice to get out on the open road and meeting new people.
I love reading all your adventures Lifey. Certainly having some bad luck this trip but we admire how you manage to travel around by yourself and face all these unfortunate moments. Real happy to see you always come out on top and at the same time meet more interesting people and find more interesting places to tell us about. Dont give up. Need to keep reading of your adventures.
By this time I was getting on top of things, and the trip was going (almost) to plan. I have to admit, rarely was I on my own. My route and choice of roads were carefully researched each day, and information was never more than a phone call away. Not that I always followed the recommendations, but it was a great comfort. I'm not quite as brave as you may think. By now too, I had managed to buy a small diary, to jot down a couple of words each day. (Buying a new diary five months into the year was not simple.)
The rural roads of northern Wisconsin instil a sense of serenity, as they wind by seemingly endless national forest. There were numerous signs to local campgrounds. Occasionally I would stop in a small town, just to get out of the van, have a drink or replenish some supplies.
From Manistique I picked up US-8 at Rhinelander and took that all the way through lots more national forest, to US-2, at Norway, in the upper penninsula. I was heading for a restaurant (small truck stop) just before the bridge where I was planning to have lunch, and whence you get an excellent view of the Mackinaw bridge.
Once over the bridge, I missed the turn off to the east coast. At Grayling I turned onto MI-32 a scenic route to the east coast at Alpena. It was a lovely drive on MI-23 along the coast, until I realised I was running late for my planned stop, and made my way back to I-75, to Belle View (Saginaw), where I spent the night.
When I awoke on Wednesday morning, I tried not to think about the fact that I was now a year older. And as it was there was plenty to distract me. Not long after I hit the road, on I-75, the traffic slowed considerably. A bit further on I saw the reason. An 18 wheeler had gone over the concrete barrier and into the ditch beside the road. The trailer was completely demolished, but the cabin seemed fine. A couple of other truckers had stopped and had gone down to see, I assume, if assistance was needed. There did not appear to be any urgency in their demeanor, and emergency services had not yet arrived. A sober reminder, and I proceeded with extra caution. I could not find anything about it on the internet, and it was not mentioned on the radio, so I guess all ended well.
The rest of the day was very pleasant and uneventful, as I wandered my way down I-75 and later I-23 to my next stop at FJ in Woodhaven MI. Had a lovely meal at Panera along the way. They are still my place of choice when it comes to eating out.
I'm enjoying your travelogue and am trying to follow it in my atlas, as I read.
I have a friend from the Woodhaven area -- no longer lives there, but lives over along US-2 in Superior, WI. I think you mean US-23, though? Also like Panera myself -- usually good fresh food.I-23 to my next stop at FJ in Woodhaven MI. Had a lovely meal at Panera along the way.