Breakfast varied from place to place. In parking lots, we usually stuck to cooking inside which was either grits and toast for both of us or oatmeal for me. If we were in a hurry, Chip would eat muffins and I fixed me a bowl of oatmeal to go. I typically eat oatmeal seven days a week, as being gluten-free, sugar-free and dairy-free it limits your choices. I don’t always stick to it 100% but I rarely fudge on breakfast, unless I am at a Cracker Barrel, and then all food restrictions are out the window. When we camped anywhere but a parking lot, Chip would cook bacon and eggs for himself outside on the table-top stove and his cast-iron frying pan. There is nothing better than the smell of bacon cooking on a camp stove. I love the smell of bacon even though I do not eat it.
The next leg of our journey, Saturday, September 14, 2019, was going through the rest of Ohio, Indiana and into Illinois. We stopped for lunch at Jubilee College State Park. It is a beautiful park that once was a college but closed in the late 1800s and the land was eventually given to the state of Illinois. The park offered cheap camping at 8.00 a night, but it was too early to stop for the day. But if you are in the area it would be worth checking into. We enjoyed our picnic lunch on one of the many picnic tables they had scattered throughout the park. We decided to take a short hike to stretch our legs, but could not find the trailhead, so we gave up and were once again on the road.
We made it through Illinois, and into Iowa. As noted before the scenery though beautiful consisted of miles and miles of you guessed it more corn, soybeans and an occasional sunflower field. I would have loved to have seen the sunflowers before now, as they all are tired of standing tall and beautiful, and instead are limp at the neck, looking down, not up, even when the sun was shining. I thought I had a picture, but I can’t seem to find it. If I find it amongst the thousands of pictures, I will share it later, though I am sure all of you have seen sad sunflowers.
There were fields and fields of something that stood tall and moved in the wind that I was completely obsessed with Illinois and Iowa. Do you know what that might be? Windmills! Miles and miles of them. They looked tiny until you got up close and they were huge. Chip asked me after a while how many pictures could one possibly take, of a windmill. They all looked the same, but they were so cool looking. We even saw windmill blades on trucks. Well let me correct that; you would see one blade on an extra-large truck with lead cars displaying wide load signs. To me, it was just an amazing sight. And of course, I had to read about it. Texas has the most windmills in the US followed by, yes, you guessed it, Iowa. We saw some at times that were not turning. I learned the most common reason that windmills stop spinning is because the wind is not blowing fast enough. Most windmills need a sustained wind speed of 9 MPH or higher to operate. I also learned they are 280 ft tall and have three 120-foot-long blades. I could share a lot of windmill pictures with you, but I will spare you and share a few of my favorite ones.
Did you know the Worlds largest truck stop is in Iowa? I didn’t either. I did get a picture, but Chip wasn’t interested in stopping, as it was packed and we had a destination and Iowa 80 was not it. I did, of course, google it and learned this:
On the eastern edge of Iowa, not far from the Mississippi River, adjacent to the small town of Walcott, you’ll find a place like no other in the world. The Iowa 80 Truckstop, now the World’s Largest Truckstop, established its home here in 1964 and is now in itself a home away from home to countless drivers and a destination for travelers as well. Some say Iowa 80 Truckstop is like a small city, others have likened it to a Trucker’s Disneyland, all can agree it is a place not to be missed.
You may want to check it out if you are traveling in that area. I definitely will plan on stopping there if I am in that area again. I will hold my potty break until we are close and then “have” to stop. Yep, that is exactly what I will do next time.
I love truck stops; they have the neatest things in them for sale. I did get lost in a couple of different ones on this trip. In one of them, I was looking for the bathroom and went into the lounge area where only truckers are welcome. It was nice, but I did get some funny looks. The next mishap I again was looking for the bathroom and there was a sign that said restrooms, nothing more. I thought it must be a hallway to the bathrooms, but I walked right into the men’s bathroom. Thank God no one was standing at the row of urinals that clearly meant I was not where I was supposed to be. Though it did bring back a memory of Los Tres in Danville. I remember going into the ladies’ bathroom and seeing a urinal and going back out to make sure I was not in the wrong bathroom. I have no clue why there is a urinal in the ladies’ bathroom. This was back before all the gender things of today. I did make a purchase in one of the first truck stops we went into. Many of you remember me taking a poll about prescription sunglasses or transitional glasses. I elected to get prescription sunglasses, with polarized lenses since we do so much fishing. I was so excited to pick them up before we left. When I tried them on at the eye doctor I felt “whoozie.” By the way that is not a word, but I am sure I am not the only person who has ever felt “whoozie.” I told the lady they made me feel funny. She asked me if I could see and yes I can but they literally made me feel as if my equilibrium was off or something. I think she thought I was crazy as she didn’t even comment on it. I left feeling disappointed but I thought I would try to get used to them, but it did not work. By the end of day one I had already put them back in their case, and in the dashboard for safekeeping. I have since googled it of course, and it does happen. It has something to do with the shape of the glasses. It seems there is an optical focal point and that it is more difficult to put it in the correct place on curved lenses. At the truck stop, I purchased a pair of polarized clip-on’s and they worked just fine for the trip. It was just a pain to keep up with them, clipping them on and off. I am not sure what I will be doing about sunglasses. I wish I could have Lasik surgery but supposedly it is not recommended for people with RA. I am going to talk to my rheumatologist about that on my next visit. It is bad enough to have bad joints, why does RA have to affect anything other than joints? Trust me, it does, and that is an entire blog in itself. So back on topic. The other purchase I made in that same truck stop was Cinnabons, 16 minis to be exact. I love their logo, “Life Needs Frosting.” I had already paid for them and was holding my box grinning from ear to ear waiting on Chip to finish up getting gas and taking a potty break. I got a lot of funny looks and wasn’t sure why, but they were probably wondering why this “old woman” per my daughter’s description of me, was standing there holding a box grinning like a bird fed cat. Cinnabons are not on the safe list of foods for people who are trying to avoid foods that are known to be “inflammatory” but a Cinnabon is worth a little extra morning stiffness. Cinnabons are one of those rare treats where we live and you have to enjoy them when you get the chance. They were warm and delicious. We only ate a couple of them that night, but Chip heated them and had them for breakfast the next morning. I was glad to not have the temptation. I bet you are now craving Cinnabons…mmmm me too!
I was looking for boondocking opportunities on the webpages I mentioned while Chip drove. There are a lot of other places to look for free camping as well. One of them, which we did not elect to do because there is a cost to obtain the information, is called Harvest Host. They have done what I call the “leg work” to create a list of wineries, breweries, distilleries, farms, and attractions that invite RVers to stay in 873+ stunning camping sites. We may consider using them on our next cross-country adventure, as they have some neat places to stay, people like you and I who have agreed to “host” someone in their yard or on their property. The cost is 79.00 annually which may seem a bit pricey, but the cost of camping sites these days has drastically increased with the rise in people purchasing campers. So if you obtained this membership, it would pay for itself easily. I was just looking for completely free camping on this trip and not necessarily at unique venues since we would be going to be early and up and gone before we would even care what the view was for the most part. We just wanted to feel safe.
One of the places that I saw in the Harvest Host was in Iowa on a farm and you were welcome to pull up in between some of their grain bins and set up camp for the night. They even would offer a hosepipe to get fresh water and would say you were welcome to drain your grey-water tank if you needed to. Some of the others I read seemed the “host” families were really into “hosting” and made friends with the people who stopped, gave them fresh vegetables from their garden and one even gave homemade apple butter to some boondockers who stopped at their farm. Now, that is my kind of people. I do think it would be neat to meet people along the way because if you know me you know I do not meet a stranger.
Their free camping guide below is where I obtained the cute, catchy names of camping locations. Boondocking we have of course already talked about. The others that you will see me refer to are Wallydocking and Blacktop Boondocking. https://rv.harvesthosts.com/ultimateguidefreervcamping
We decided to not get too far off track for the night as some of the best boondocking opportunities that I could see from my free webpages would have been miles out of the way so we elected to stay in the Walmart parking lot in Denison, Iowa. We have of course, like many of you, have seen trucks and campers in Walmart parking lots, but never had experienced what it was like to be “one of those” campers. Wallydocking I can honestly say wasn’t that bad. This Walmart in Dayton, Ohio, was open all night, so we strategically thought about our camping spot. It was dark and almost abandoned-looking by the garden center, but honestly, that scared me a little and I told Chip I would be more comfortable if we could sleep under a light in the lot because if someone was going to mess with us, I wanted others to be able to see them too. 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.
Join us on day 3 for the best part of our journey. We drove hard to get to our next destination, you will not want to miss this one for sure.