Our Chalet Truck Camper

Our Chalet Truck Camper

Sunday, June 01, 2008

NY to Iowa

Thursday, May 29, 2008
Left Dick and Elizabeth's at 8:30AM after a wonderful coffee cake and tea breakfast. Beautiful weather, clear and sunny with not a lot of traffic. I wish we could look back to see their TC following along with us but alas not this trip. Here's Dicks toy shed and part of Elizabeth's gardens.

Took Route 90 over to Buffalo and then alone Lake Erie to Erie, PA. Miles and miles of grape vines for wineries but didn't stop to stock up on a case or two. Not much of a wine drinker and still trying to keep the weight down in the TC for diesel mileage. Decided to try to get to the other side of Cleveland, OH to a Cracker Barrel in Sandusky, OH for overnight. Went through Cleveland at 5PM rush hour. It was pretty busy but not like the Long Island Expressway. Sorry Long Islanders but once a TC has survived that drive there isn't much else that can seem bad to drive in. Had supper there but decided the parking was too tight to be comfortable so headed on.

Next went past Toledo on I-80 and now are in a rest area on the Ohio Turnpike. Asked permission and parked in a corner under a shade tree. Why shade tree I don't know since it is 10PM! It is sort of like "Planes, Trains and 18 Wheelers" with the noise but bet we sleep well plus I have earplugs if needed. Tomorrow we skirt the bottom of Gary and Chicago,IL and head for Amana,Iowa which is the start of our west trip. We know we blew through a lot of good parts of many states but the goal was to see parts of the country we haven't gotten into yet.

Friday, May 30th

We're now parked behind the Amana Woolen Mill for the evening. Shame neither of us dance polka since tonight Barefoot Becky and the Ivanhoe Dutchmen are putting on a show. This little town is full of folks from all over the Midwest in their polka dancing clothes. 80F but the camper is nice and cool parked under a tree with all the windows open. This is a very interesting town, one of the Amana Colonies settled by a group of German imagrees. Tomorrow we'll walk the town and probably buy a pound of bratwurst at the farmer's market before heading off. We plan on following Iowa's Loess Hills National Scenic Byway up to Sioux City and from there over to Rapid City. From now on we plan on small TC roads.

Some thoughts while we traveled. I'd never really known what "amber waves of grain" meant until I saw a field of winter wheat waving in the wind. It undulated just like the ocean but in green rather than blue. Also, we don't appreciate what the farmers do to raise their crops. We saw many out on tractors after dark working in the fields. More and more of the big farms are going into housing but there are still huge tracts of land being farmed. The vineyards are hand care and those stretched for miles. We saw a cow who had somehow gotten over the pasture fence and was on the interstate side of the field grazing. Wonder what will happen to her and the loss of an animal to the farmer? MidWesterners go out of their way to be polite and helpful. Anywhere we stopped, folks came up having seen the Maine plate and wanted to know if we needed help. That happens also in the Northeast but not to such an extent.

Diesel has ranged from $5.08 in New York to $4.73 in Ohio. The mileage has been horrible since we have been fighting a head wind since we left Elizabeth's. Good thing we have saved for years for this trip. So far $542.59 for 111.4 gallons of diesel for an average mpg of 11.2, way under our usual 12.5. Still happy we are doing this trip and really looking forward tomorrow to the Loess Hills loop where we can get back on some of the real back roads with the TC. Photos next time we get to wireless.

Saturday, May 31st

Picture perfect day with blue, blue sky and bright white clouds drifting along like puff balls. No storms in sight but the fields were flooded in many places with tiny corn plants under water. The work the farmers do to plant every square inch available is amazing. What cannot be planted is left in cover for the field creatures and to act as erosion control.

We spent most of the day in Amana, Iowa walking around a town with no commercial blight, clean, friendly, lots of perennial gardens in bloom. We visited the butcher, baker and the candle stick maker plus the quilt shop, the woolen mill, the micro brewery, the general store and a couple of barns. This is one of four colonies founded by the Germans in the 1800s. The buildings are mostly made from sandstone and hand planed wood beams. I'd recommend a visit to this town as long as you aren't looking for a theme park experience.

Instead of heading north from Amana up to Route 20 and across Iowa to Sioux Falls and then over to Rapid City, SD, we cut over on I-80 to the Loess Hills Scenic Byway which parallels I-29 south to north. Loess is the remnants of the ice age rock debris that has been ground into gravel and sand and pushed into hills by the Missouri River. The flood plain of the river is many miles wide and ends at the pushed up hills which look like sand covered with some vegetation.

We're camped for the night at the Preparation Canyon State Park which is sort of near Moorhead, Iowa. I'm uploading this thanks to a camper with an air card. We don't get far from our technology do we? 80F at 8:30PM Central time. Doesn't get this hot in Maine on July noon.

Tomorrow we head up to Sioux City to catch Route 20, not an interstate but a country road through Nebraska and then north to Murdo, South Dakota where we will get on I-90 over to Rapid City. Looking forward to the Journey Museum and the Sioux Indian Museum. We'll then go to Mount Rushmore and camp after in Custer State Park. I want to wake up and look out the window at buffalo!

No comments: