Day 1: Leaving Pelham, NC
Our first stop was to go by Bailey’s work and tell her good-bye, again, on our way out of town. We thought she might be embarrassed with her parents looking like gypsies, as we pulled up, loaded to the max. She was excited for us, and it definitely made the trip easier with her being home to make sure things were secure, the dogs, chickens and plants were cared for and the piles of mail and newspapers were picked up every day. Just Bailey and her Glock 43, which she wouldn’t mind using if she needed to, and the dogs were at home while we were gone. I knew she was well-trained for defense since she had passed the state BLET (Basic Law Enforcement Training), and would be fine at home without us, but as a mom, I still worried. We like many, did not publicly share our trip while we were “on the road” and are going to share our journey with you now. It will take me weeks to share it all, so I hope you enjoy my recount of the trip over the next few weeks as I share some of the many things that made this a trip to remember.
We left Danville and traveled through Virginia, West Virginia and Ohio. When we left Danville it was hot! As we went through lovers’ leap and the Meadows of Dan it was around 1:45 pm and the temperature dropped to 69 degrees. I thought, “Oh Lord, Chip was right, we have barely changed our altitude and it was already getting colder than I had really prepared for.” I sent Bailey a snapshot of the screen showing the temperature, and she too said, “I hope you took enough warm clothes.”
Instead of it getting cooler, the further we went the hotter it got, at 4:51 pm in West Virginia it was 97 degrees, and I was considering going back to the Meadows of Dan and spend our time. I love warm weather but I love fall camping with cool nights sitting by the campfire and sleeping with the windows open. We thought we were going to listen to a book on a CD, but we quickly discovered we were talking more than listening, so we turned it off and surprisingly to us we never turned it back on. I say surprisingly as we both love to listen to books on a CD and I had packed a couple of perfect ones since we were going to be on the road for so long. We talked about it later and realized we only listened to the radio, probably no more than 15 minutes the entire journey and that was as we were leaving town. We truly enjoyed all the scenery as we laughed and talked. I will share specific pictures and scenery ongoing that support the story. It would be easy to say that I am interesting to travel with. Just ask Chip and Bailey. I easily get excited about things and have scared both of them more than once with an exclamation from my mouth. I told Bailey I might need to duck tape my mouth as to not startle Chip when I saw something amazing, she laughed and agreed. I entertain myself and those around me whether they like it or not in the car, such as when rounding sharp curves I may just make weird noises as if the wheels were screeching, or when going through long tunnels I see if I can hum all the way through. I am the “I think I can, I think I can” when going up steep hills. Chip told me before we even left for our journey that there could be no “weird noises” in the truck, of course, I had no clue what he was talking about.
I also entertain myself on all of our long-distance trips by marking off the states I see on license plates. So, before we left town I printed off a map of the United States and packed a highlighter. I also like to track where we are on maps so if we passed a visitor center as we entered a state, we stopped and got a map. There were times I had multiple maps on my lap because I would have the current state open and one looking at where we were going to be in the next state. I will update you on my success or lack of with finding license plates of all the states.
I also had fun looking at other campers. You can see in some of our pictures I was fascinated with campers even smaller than ours. Bailey had mentioned getting her own camper, one small enough she can pull, so when I saw cute little campers I took pictures and sent them to her. She is not interested in one quite as small as the pictures I sent her, she said her camper had to at least have a bathroom. I agree with her one hundred percent. Years ago Chip and I camped to Maine and back, in a tent. I will have to tell you all about that trip someday down the road. Though I loved tent camping and it was one of the most memorable trips of our lifetime, the need for a bathroom during the night would not work for me in a tent these days at all, it is called age.
One of the things we have noticed in the couple of years we have had our truck camper is that on the east coast truck campers were far and few in-between. When we go camping with our friends, our truck camper is very tiny compared to their huge, and I mean huge, campers they have. I am pretty sure we could put our camper in their living room. I have attached a picture of a recent camping trip with some friends, so you can see the comparison. I hope they don’t mind me bragging on their camper. Though large campers are very nice, we could not have done this journey, our way, with that type of camper.
As Chip planned our trip, he told me truck campers were popular out West and I would see more on the road the further we went West. I was ready, when I saw my first truck camper I marked it on my map page, so I could keep up with how many truck campers I would see. You will have to check back in to get my results. I wondered when other truck campers passed us if they were as excited to see us as I was to see them. When I would see a truck camper I was ready with a wave, you know like Harley riders and jeep owners, but no one seemed to have a “truck camper” wave back for us. I guess in the end they were not counting campers like I was.
I learned quickly that the tunnels in Virginia were just a bit longer than my hum would last, but I had fun trying. And we went through several, so I had several chances to practice. I never hummed all the way to the end, probably because Chip would make me laugh. I usually try to hold my breath from beginning to end of the tunnel and to show that I am not breathing I just hum out. He reminded me more than once that weird noises were not allowed in the truck.
Trust me, there were noises, not weird ones, but entertaining ones, as went around sharp curves, and boy through some of those mountain roads there were a lot of sharp curves. We did like how West Virginia had such descriptive road signs, “Bump” and “dip.” A bump is a rise in the pavement whereas a dip is a low spot in the pavement as if you didn’t know that. Now in a car that sign may not mean a lot, but I can assure you in our truck camper we liked to know if there was a bump or a dip, as it was important to let off the accelerator. The truck still made weird noises when we “bumped”, well okay maybe it was not the truck but the passenger that made exaggerated weird noises, but it was a pretty big bump and warranted a noise or two.
Random pictures in Virginia that I thought were interesting and beautiful.
Of course, you cannot travel into other states without taking the typical, “Welcome” state sign. Unless of course you miss the “welcome” sign and have to catch the “come back soon” state sign. Still not sure how I missed the welcome to Ohio sign.
Leaving West Virginia we entered into Ohio. We definitely decided the only thing we saw through Ohio was a lot of corn. I honestly can say I have never seen so much corn in my life. I am pretty sure I had nightmares about corn, I just don’t remember most of my dreams, so I cannot say for sure. I will not bore you with all of my field pictures but wanted to share some, as the crops were so amazing. There were cornfields and soybean fields as far as the eye can see. I thought they were beautiful because you could see how the rows were so perfect. It was hard to capture it on camera, running 70 miles an hour. We had always thought the fields in eastern North Carolina were huge. That was until we hit Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, and Illinois. These were in Ohio, they were even bigger and better in the “I” states. Those pictures will be later.
We like to be spontaneous in our journeys. That is one of the reasons a truck camper works so well for us. It is a lot easier to immediately stop a truck camper to make a quick turn than it would be with a huge camper following us down the highway, There were a lot of times that we would see things that we would make a quick turn around and go back. There were also plenty of times that Chip told me we would never get where we were going if we kept turning around so I became more selective in my requests as we traveled.
In Ohio, we finally saw something other than corn. We saw a sign for the Bob Evans Farm in Rio Grande, Ohio. We knew Bob Evans was a restaurant but we were curious about the “farm” and since it was getting near dinner time, we thought we would check it out. We had not planned on eating out and had food in the camper we were going to prepare once we found our camping spot for the evening, but we knew we would not get the opportunity to visit Bob Evans original farm again so we decided it was worth checking out. Everything we did on this journey I would “google” it and learn about it. Whether it was a memorial highway sign, a historical marker or a tourist attraction, if I saw it and Chip didn’t know what it was (he knows just about everything) then I looked it up and learned about it. What I learned about Bob Evans was he had a small diner back in 1948, and he had a hard time finding what he thought was good sausage. So he started making his own. His diner started off with twelve stools. The restaurant grew of course and the one we ate at could hold 134 people. And as we all know there are Bob Evans restaurants all over, more than 500 to be exact. The restaurant we ate had several historical markers, trails and even camping at special events. They would have a big festival coming up in October that looked like an amazing event, if you lived in the area, though I would not drive back there just for that. There was an adorable homemade tiny camper in the parking lot that I had to take a picture of as we left. I sure wish I could have seen the inside. They had all kinds of toys attached to the tops and sides. They definitely looked like they were on the road for an adventure.
There were a lot of things I saw along the way that Chip would not let me take a picture of. We stopped at a rest area, and I saw a car with the trunk open and all their luggage spread out carelessly on the pavement. I thought about how sad they must have a flat tire. As we approached them, we noted the people in and around the car were police officers and the car’s occupants were handcuffed and quietly sitting on the bench. We went to the road to walk instead of the sidewalk obviously and tried not to look, not too much anyway. On the way out of the bathroom, I had my phone out, and Chip said: “what are you doing.” I said I wanted to take a picture, he very seriously said Kathy put the phone away and come on, “DO NOT TAKE A PICTURE”, in his daddy tone, I knew he meant it. Too bad, though, because I would have been able to share my picture here, minus the car’s occupants of course. I really did think they had a flat tire. I bet they wish that a flat tire was their problem that day.
Our first night on the road we stayed in a Cabelas parking lot in Centerville, Ohio. We already knew Cabelas was a boondocking friendly place to stay the night. There are a lot of great web pages to help identify camping places. Some are listed as free, state parks, even county parks, which Walmart allowed parking and which ones did not. These sites were very helpful in our journey. Our two favorite sites were https://www.campendium.com/ and https://freecampsites. We found some great places to camp from each of these sites, as well as where we could dump our tanks and refill with fresh water. Some of the dumpsites cost, but most were free.
This was our first time sleeping in a Cabelas parking lot. There was a sign that directed trucks and RV’s to the far side of the building, and trying to follow the rules, we did ride over to that side and looked around, but it just seemed more isolated than we liked. We elected to stay in a far corner of the parking lot under a light. The light was no brighter inside the camper than a full moon so it wasn’t bad at all. The noise wasn’t bad either. We both slept like babies. We had read a lot of forums about sleeping in the Cabelas parking lot and though it is “free” sometimes the stay may cost you hundreds of dollars. This was not the case with us as we were up and traveling before they even opened, so no expensive receipts for us, not this trip anyway, we have had our fair share of receipts from Cabelas, though. Chip has a Cabelas credit card. I have a Marshalls credit card. I guess you can tell what our favorite stores might just be.
An appropriate sign I saw at Bob Evans that fits Chip and me perfectly. I did not buy it because I am a tightwad but took a picture to share.
You have always heard a picture is worth a thousand words, but to me, the story that goes with it makes it worth a lot more. I hope you have enjoyed Day 1 of our journey through our pictures and story.
We will see you soon at breakfast on day two.