Part 3 – Crossing the USA – RV from GA to WA
April 30, 2012 Thomaston, GA 0800
Steve and Charlotte Beadles, owners of the Crestview Inn, where I stayed for the month of April gave me directions to ‘get out of town’ and to avoid the long tedious method the GPS wants to go. It worked perfectly and I was on I-85 before I hardly knew it. From I-85 I traveled I-285 to bypass Atlanta. Traffic was incredibly heavy anyway at that hour going towards the airport and the city. I traveled on 24 for the longest time. It took me straight up through GA and into TN at a very northerly western route.
I found an Air Force family camp at Arnold AFB which I thought, somehow, was part of Ft. Campbell. I thought I might stay there but I arrived at 1158, much too early to stop for the day. So, I checked on the commissary but as usual it was closed on Monday. Most military bases commissaries are closed Mondays and open 0800 – 2000 daily. The gate guard was cooly polite and gave me the number to call for the family camp. They are closed on Monday too!! I left.
So, traveling down the road without incident, RV handling great, a few curves, a few hills, one mountain in TN and overall a great trip. So many trucks but all polite and cautious. The only issues I saw were a very few very aggressive and careless drivers, always men, in small cars. One even came around traffic on the grass and merged back in!!
Then…. Red lights were flashing and traffic was slowing to give space and birth to the emergency vehicles. It was an accident from the other side of the road nearly lying on our side. Traffic was stopped heading East; we slowed to about 15mph. I saw the tragic accident up close and could not help but begin to cry. I tried to pray but could not find the words. I prayed in my prayer language and asked Father God to interpret later. He did. Such a beautiful prayer; I was Blessed too.
I continued on 24 and began looking for fuel and lunch. I found a Love’s station with a McDonald’s and figured I could handle that as I could get on the internet too. But….. Love’s did not have any fuel. I saw diesel on a gas sign but it was a Shell and $4.29 per gallon. I still had 3 marks at that point so decided to make a u-turn and keep going for a while. At the u-turn, I noticed a Panera Bread Co. I stopped and had excellent Chicken Tortilla soup with a hunk of artisan bread. The person taking my order remembered there was a Pilot about 10 miles down the road. I found the Pilot and had to wait while two trucks (not 18-wheelers), both empty of drivers, were blocking all four diesel pumps and were inside shopping and chatting!!
I fueled and moved on. Around 1700 I was tired of driving and my ankles were swollen so I decided to stop at the next likely spot. I thought I might locate a town and find a Wal-Mart; but, I saw a Pilot and pulled off at the exit. Incredibly, the exit had the sign Ft. Campbell. I thought, ‘hum, I wonder if this is a real fort or just the name of the town. It is in KY! Laughing to myself, I found a McDonald’s before the Pilot so I had an Angus Burger. While waiting for my order, a GI walked in wearing his uniform. I asked, ‘is there a Fort Campbell?” He said, yes turn left at the light and go about 3 miles. Do not take the first gates, go to gate 4. I did and here I am camping at the family camp on post!! Thank you Father!!
I have 50-amp service, William had to help me figure it out and get the adapter plug for that circuit. THIS is STILL a learning experience. I LOVE it!! Praise God for the opportunity and thank you to William as he ‘bails me out’ every so often!
Day 2: May 1, 2012. I slept very well last night considering a new bed, too hot, air-conditioner running all night until 0300. The noise was not much different though than the room at the Crestview Inn as Charlotte had added a de-humidifier in the room for me to take out more moisture. But…. Added to the machine running, there was a symphony of thunder and lightning all night. It was so beautiful coming through the trees. I wanted to set up the tri-pod and take pictures but was not sure if that would act as a lightning rod. J.
Ft. Campbell is the largest best equipped post I think I have ever visited. For those soldiers who are interested in being outdoors, active, playing team and individual sports, learning, developing others, etc., this is the post to be stationed at. They even have horse stables, horse riding, riding lessons along with skeet, boating, etc. etc. etc. I saw the PT (Physical Training) activities this morning. Many of the troups were dressed in shorts and tshirts running up a huge hill, around what appeared to be an obstacle course and chatting along the way. Fun to watch and see their attitudes. They all seemed to enjoy working out and building their stamina while still socializing.
The PX is huge and carries everything you can imagine. I purchased RV toilet sanitizer and deodorizer. But, they carry appliances, furniture, clothing, electronics, etc. etc. etc. All in one building!! The commissary on the other hand, is too small to service the population and retirees near here. I imagine there is a budget in place to build a new commissary soon. It is very old, a little dumpy looking and, repeating, small.
The commissary here is open 7 days per week but not until 0900. Too funny. I could have shopped last night and been out of here already. Oh, well. It is cooler, cloudy and not raining. I am headed for Kansas City via St. Louis today. Not sure how far that is nor how far I will drive but……
I am just 20 miles outside of St. Louis, MO. I had stopped once to eat at a WalMart as I could not find a rest stop anywhere. The only one I saw was closed. About an hour later I needed to stop again as my beverages and hydrating was working. I waited and found a rest area and stopped. I parked amongst about 30 trucks. I walked around for a bit but was tired. I needed fuel and rest but decided to make it past St. Louis heading for Kansas City. I had no sooner got back on the freeway when I said out loud: “I would sure like to find a base to stay the night.” The day had been a little more challenging. Within 2 miles I saw a sign Scott AFB!!! I am all checked in, at the library for wifi and will cook tonight! YEA!! Thank you Father God!! To say I am surprised would not be true, but truly grateful for all His Blessings is accurate.
The challenges of the day included road work, heavy traffic, my sore arms and shoulder muscles, leg pain from sitting too much and rough roads. I also became a little distracted as I determined I could have cut off about 25 miles going a slightly different way. But… I needed the GPS to get me through some of the places so it worked out; I dropped the attitude! Being settled in for the night is a real plus for the day.
Finding the family camp was hilarious. I asked at the main gate, that is after I had to merge into a whole line of traffic because I followed the signs, not the known rules, and was told I would have to check in with Security Forces. I was puzzled as the family camp is usually run by MWR outdoor activities. But, I dutifully went to Security Forces and several MPs were very surprised. They assured me this was incorrect and sent me on my way to the MWR office. I laughed along the way and marveled at how we seem to stumble along and it all works out. Praise God.
I am not sure how I am doing on miles, but I think I am a little ahead of the ‘game’. I had originally planned to spend the 3rd night near St. Louis. I may add to this pace or slow down. Who knows!! I will see how things go.
Tomorrow night is the first night I am planning on stopping at a Fort. I know Ft. Riley is sort of on my way but it is a way out of Kansas City, MO and Kansas City is 250 miles from here. Time, energy, etc. will tell.
I had the Blessing of speaking with my friend Jill from Quartzsite tonight. She noticed I was on Facebook and rightly guessed I also had phone service. I was at the library still but had to cut it short as I wanted to make sure I was at my campsite, hooked up before dark.
I had a very simple dinner tonight, no cooking, as it was late and I was tired and hungry. I had Kashi vanilla wheat cereal. It was good. I followed that with a teeny tiny Hagen Daz ice cream of vanilla caramel. What a nice treat. I have not had ice cream since around September this year! But I am glad my freezer is full so I did not buy a bigger version. This was adequate. LOL
Day 3, May 2, 2012. Awakened around 0545 ready for the day. I walked awhile for exercise, fresh air and the shower room. First two accomplished, third, no. I never did find the shower but decided I would have a long one tonight at Ft. Riley. I was hoping to get that far without stress or becoming too tired. I called around looking for diesel; success at the Security Forces staff. My GPS thought she knew where one was as well but….. I found one within about 7 miles of my campsite. Good thing too, I was at 1 mark when I filled up. It was not a truck stop so higher, but I was thankful and paid the $3.99 per gallon.
On the road for about 2 hours before stopping at a place called Ozarkland. I was not interested but I could not find a rest area again. In fact, St. Louis is a mad house. It took nearly an hour to get through all the traffic, construction and strange layout of roads. I must have changed lanes 9 times and each time was challenging. Even after I was out of St. Louis, all the way to Kansas City, I was on what appeared to be business row, not freeway. It was a freeway so each area had exits but the traffic on and off was unbelievable. During the 250 miles between these two cities, there was not more than about 45 miles of open space. It is all cities, business extensions, etc. It is certainly not a boring drive as you must be extra alert always.
I had Faqe yogurt with blueberries and cheese bread from Panera. Very satisfiying and easy. I sat in the sun with my feet up and enjoyed the time. I read a chapter in Acts about the man born crippled and the healing by men in the Name of Jesus. They also explained the reason they could do it. That it had nothing to do with their strength but the power left for them to work in Jesus Name because of what He did on the cross. I love the entire Bible, but that was such a great chapter to choose today.
Several times today I was in battle. Spirit of Fear, anxiety and stress was actively hounding me regarding fuel, traffic, finding my way and not getting on the wrong road, being able to merge into traffic, etc. etc. etc. But, Praise God, I recognized them right away, took responsibility for my participation and listening at all, repented for that participation, renounced them in Jesus Name and removed them through the power given to me by Father God in the Name of Jesus, with all the work being done by Holy Spirit. Thank you Father.
The on and off ramps are hazards in MO. They are very short and I was Blessed to always merge on without any traffic near me. Sometimes, the cars merging on while I was on the freeway were a little challenging. I tried to stay mostly in the center lane because of all the exiting and entering traffic. But, occasionally I was in the right-hand lane; one a driver just came on over. He was going to run into me if I did not move. I guess he was counting on that, I did not test him. Praise God I did not have anyone close on my left side and could move over. This was on the highway after it was reduced to only two lanes each way. The highways have all been divided and that provides for easy driving with only traffic heading the same direction to watch out for.
I saw one sign on the highway that caused a double take. Blue sign like services, restuarants, parks, etc. with: Pharmacy Exit 12. Incredible. I was saddened by that and knowing that so many people put all their trust into pharmacia. I also watched a couple tonight in WalMart that was sad. The dad lit up a cigarette in the car with wife, small daughter and about 15-year-old son. Incredible the son lit up too!!
Surprising Aggression in Kansas
I stopped at McDonald’s at a service area on the toll road once I passed through Kansas City. I fueled and wanted to check the internet. I was going to see how far it was to Ft. Riley and call and make sure they had room for me to park overnight. But, I asked in the McDonalds and a young couple told me how to find Ft. Riley, exit 301, and that it was only about 65 miles. So, I ventured off.
I found the Fort easily and was so excited to see all the old buildings. What a beautiful and maintained fort. But, the gate guard, while a GI did not know of the family camp and barely recognized the outdoor recreation group. So, I was on my own as he did not offer to call anyone or ask. I looked for the MP building but found one with some cars and stopped. A lone man, civilian, was out and took me inside to help me. He had a phone book and looked up the outdoor rec. They do NOT have RV or any campsite at all. I asked if there was just a long term parking where I might plug in the the night. She said no. The man, Matt, tried to find an outlet and was going to let me stay in the parking lot plugged in. He was even willing to run a cord from the inside plug but I said no. It sounded like trouble for him and me.
He then proceeded to spend the next 15 minutes telling me how to get to a camp ground on the lake but I needed to drive about 6 miles, over the dam, and I did not know what I might find one there. All alone, I was not willing. He told me how to find the Wal Mart and so here I am. It is hot, but not too hot. I have the windows open and the roof fan running. If I am miserable, there is a Best western about ¼ block away through the parking lot.
I checked the Best Western. 89 per night plus tax. She will offer me 70 plus tax. No thanks. I moved so I have free flowing air and all the windows open. I am sitting with my feet up and cooling down. It will continue to cool tonight. I will be fine. Tomorrow, if it is still hot, I will find a Motel 6 or such before I reach Denver and before it is late.
I became physically ill from the heat. At about 2030 I closed all the windows and turned the generator on. Once it had run for a time, I switched the refrigerator to electric, plugged my phone in, plugged the pc in and then turned the air conditioner on. It ran for about 45 minutes. Cooled right down and at 2200 I went to bed and slept until 0545. Praise God.
Day 4, May 3, 2012. I am so thankful I have a generator; I made a drink this am. So good!! I was on the road by 0730 at first real light. I am nearly out of Kansas, about 16 miles to go, and stopped at McDonald’s. I do appreciate the availability of wifi at all McDonald’s.
Thank you to Coelleen who taught me to use these free services!!
An Unplanned Fun Side Journey
Today I took an unintentional detour. I was traveling on I-70 with numerous trucks, several with oversize loads, chase cars, traffic, etc. etc. etc. We came to a particularly tricky construction site, road work, and the speed limit was 60mph. That was my speed anyway. But….. the trucks did not want to obey even though it is stated in very large clear letters that the fines will be doubled. It became a 2-lane road with no way off and guess who was leading. You are right! Me. I could not tell what was happening at one area so I chose to stay right even though I knew the right lane had been closed; I had to get away from these trucks. It was an exit. I said, oh, well, that is ok, I will go back on across the street and the truck traffic for now will be gone. Well………. The other side was closed. There was a detour that took you up onto I-70 going back east. I stopped and asked the flagger. He said I will go back to the last exit and go through the tight contruciton lanes again. I said, is there a way around. He said only if you want to go through Ellsworth. I said, “How much will that add to my tirp”, He said,’ only about 15 minutes’. I kept going and found Ellsworth. Not a sign anywhere to indicate I-70 was anywhere in this direction.
I stopped and took at my map. I could see where I was, where I needed to be but could not tell how to get there. I was walking over to a store when a biker, Harley rider in full leathers including cap of course, stopped and asked if I was lost. I said, ‘no, but I am confused’. He looked at my map, knew the area and directed me. I found my way to Wilson and on to Dorrance. Still not a sign anywhere, but my gps lady caught up and quit wanting me to u-turn. LOL I stopped and spoke with a nice couple at a fuelling station and was back on my way.
I am stopped now in Goodland, just outside of Colorado border. The time changed so I gained an hour. It is only 1319 right now. I will travel a little longer but plan to stop early tonight and if it has not cooled down significantly, I will find a Motel 6.
Plans changed. I was about 150 miles out of Denver when I began looking for a motel. It was so hot my air conditioner could not keep up. I did not find anything. It is all open space, beautiful and without any services. At about 40 miles out I saw a huge TA truck stop but decided I would not stop as I knew I could not spend the night in the open air; I did not need fuel. I still had 5 marks. Soon, I was on a tollway, thank you GPS, that took me around the city without ever ‘stepping foot’ into the city traffic. Praise God. Then onto I-25 where I found traffic but it was just coming up on me at 75 – 80 while I continued at my 60mph. They went around and no issues. However, on I-25 it is also out in the open space and there were no services. I was down to 4 marks. I kept going but nothing. At 3 marks I said, ‘well, I am not finding any motels but I do need a gas station”. I was not tired at all did I become anxious. THANK YOU FATHER! For all the training and help provided continuously.
I found some hotels but they were in very congested areas and they were all Marriott, Hilton and such. I was not willing to get into the congestion nor to pay $200 per night which is my estimate. Plus, there was not a gas station in sight. I found some sings for fuel but no diesel. So, I kept moving and saw one sign with a single station on it, not recognizable by me, but it said diesel. I stopped. Fuel was the cheapest I had ever found it so far. $3.89/gal. Back on the freeway to find a place to stay. I saw a sign that said ‘Laramie 2nd right’. I turned. My GPS had a fit but I kept going. Then, not sure, I pulled off at a small station and spoke with a very polite young man. He is likely a student here as this is a college town. He answered 5 important questions. 1. Is this the way to Laramie and he assured me it was the best and shortest way. 2. It was 1805 and I could make it to Laramie before dark. 3. The temperature (he looked it up on his phone) was 81, dropping to 66 at 2130 and 60 by 2330. 4. A WalMart was only 2 blocks from where I was. 5. The inn two doors down from him had a good reputation and many people stay there.
I walked around outside noting the breeze was cool and quite comfortable for a night at WalMart. I opened the windows and went into the store to look for the cook top. It was too warm in the store and they did not carry the item anyway. Back at my vehicle I sat quietly in the back with a cross breeze cooing me along with a cold bottle of water at the back of my neck. William called nervous that it was late. I am only 1 hour ahead of WA now so it was only 1930. We spoke for a long time regarding my day. He was so shocked that I was all the way past Denver already. We checked out the rest of my route and said good night. I was in bed by 2045. I woke up a little chilly at about 0110 so added my towel to my sheets. LOL A huge motorhome has moved in near me towing a car with the rear wheels on a dolly and the front on the ground. Strange, as I wonder how they control the front wheels from turning or not.
Day 5, May 4, 2012. I awakened at 0535 and had a shower, did the dishes, straightened my ‘home’ up, prepared the garbage for delivery at WalMart and am having breakfast. I had drink left over from yesterday so very simple. I have closed all the windows save the one on the slider. It is beautiful outside, warm but not hot at all. The sun is shining and it is now 0654. I am going to finish getting ready and head for Laramie. It should be cooler now the rest of the way home. And, William had directed me so I do not go through any passes so I should not find snow. YEA!!!
Following the young man’s directions, I proceeded to Riverside to connect with 287 despite the loud protests by my GPS lady with a constant banter of turn left, turn right, turn around, make a u-turn. LOL Once I reached about the ½ mark on 287 she just stopped talking. She never did embrace my route but was quiet. Then…. When I was about 2 miles outside of Laramie, she awakened and said, ‘in 2 miles turn right onto I80 West towards Cheyenne. Now that was all correct except Cheyenne is East. I went west.
Gaining Altitude – Closing in on Washington
It was an enjoyable journey, and I was glad I waited until morning to tackle it. As I came closer to Laramie and very high in the mountains, I came around a long curve to face SNOW in the distant mountains north west of me. It is like a mountain pass with possible high winds, hazardous conditions, etc. The road may be closed at WYDOT’s determination at any time and ALL traffic is forced off at the next exit. We did not have any such incidences. LOL I sailed right along without issue. The speed limit was 65 and I maintained my 60. There were two lanes for each hill we had to climb so I was never stopping the minimal traffic.
Once on I-80 the same warnings were everywhere. But… For me, smooth sailing again. I am in Rawlins now which is in high country, heavy truck traffic and variable speed limits possible. The weather here must be brutal at times. The speed has not changed from 75 now unless construction. I stopped at a Flying J only needing 10 gallons of fuel but I was not sure when I would see civilization again. The area reminds me of Quartzsite in ONLY two areas. The landscape is flat up here on top, with rocks stacked and hills around. It could be desert floor but the plants are different. AND, that it is 100 miles’ minimum to anywhere!!
I have had a few gusts of wind, snow patches off on the hillsides in crevasses, no dust, and even the warning sign flags are hanging limp. The sun is bright, the sky blue with a few wispy white clouds. It is cool up here with the breeze but the sun is intense. I did have to turn the heat on in the RV as I drove earlier this morning. Funny, dependent on air-conditioning for so long heat seemed strange.
I am now stopped for the night at a Walmart just outside Ogden, UT. It is 300 miles to Boise, 710 to Portland, OR and 2 hours to Pocatello, where the next Wal Mart is. I filled up with fuel at the Flying J and drove one more exit (6 miles) to the town of Perry, UT. The Walmart does not have a bit of shade. It is sitting just so the sun going down in the west is cooking the entire parking lot. I found a couple of trees, hugged up close to them, closed the blinds on the truly sunny side and turned onhe generator. I am far enough from the front of the store that I don’t think anyone will complain. I will turn it off once it cools outside and inside. I have 2/3 tank of Propane and the Flying J has propane. So, a short backward trip if necessary. You might ask, ‘why didn’t you check before you left and buy some?”. Well, it was very hot, I had already had a 2 block walk each way to the store as the card reader was not working so I had to leave my card at the desk and then fill the tank. Plus, I had to then park way away in case I decided to stay put for the night. So……… that’s my story and I am sticking to it!!
The highway I-80 just 3.5 miles from the connection to I-84 is an artist’s dream. The mountains are so beautiful. They are full of color of varying rock types plus the greenery is covering a major area in the crevasses and flat areas. I could not get any pictures as there is not stopping for anything but emergency. I did stop just to walk around before I left CO just outside of Evanston. I walked at a river walk and took some pictures. While there, I cooked my hamburger steak as I needed to cook it. I ate some and cooked the summer squash. It was very good. Now I have leftovers in the frig.
This was a tougher day than any other. It was both the most beautiful, challenging to drive, full of construction and very narrow high speed lanes with trucks pushing, sometimes one side of the van on one type of highway and the other on a second, curves the entire way, some tight, some long, some with cliffs some on flat ground. Plus there were dead deer frequently lying on the roadway along with other animals. But… Praise God, I made it through without incident and not too stressed. I spent my time pretending I was speaking to Gov Romney who is maybe our next president. I sing, pray and talk to myself along the way. I comment on all scenery and wish I could walk, ride my bike and take pictures.
This morning I could send email from WalMart as I was parked next to a Home Depot and they now offer free public wifi. Flying J has wifi too, but they charge.
Day 6, May 5, 2012. The air conditioner cooled the RV to a very comfortable range and I turned it off at around 2015. I did not open any windows as I was comfortable and that was always a possibility later if necessary. I awoke at about 0100 freezing! I added TWO towels to my sheet cover and a run over my feet. I slept until about 0445. Then… I turned the RV furnace on!!! Incredible but it was really cold. I was ready to leave around 0615 so did. The road out of Perry was great. I was a little concerned at first because I could see fog, black clouds, etc. and I did not know which direction they were. Turns out they were the other way.
The road was good, windy, smooth, low on traffic and straight. I cruised along at 65 mph. Then….. the road changed to real curves, high wind, with strong gusts, more trucks, etc. etc. etc. I slowed down, prayed and asked for help. I did not enjoy any scenery for many miles (like 140) due to strong wind. But safe and no accidents along the way either. Thank you Father God!
I have only driven 175 miles but it was difficult. I am at McDonalds after fueling at Flying J in Twin Falls, ID. The fueling was easy but pricy. $4.15/gal. The town with motels, McDonalds, etc. was over 5 miles off the highway. But, I was committed by then. So, have enjoyed drinking a large hot chocolate. It is so cold here and the wind is so strong, I nearly froze buying fuel.
Funny: It took me half the cup of cocoa to figure out that the little tab goes into the cup backwards and then is available to use again. I thought I had to keep holding it up to drinking. LOL McDonald’s was packed. They have an extended menu that I had not seen before. Big breakfast (eggs, sausage, pancakes, etc. etc. etc.), oatmeal, smoothies, etc. I did not want any of the above.
Next morning, on the road again. Home at last. Great trip. Ready to go again. Traveling slowly, site seeing and seeing Fathr God’s Creation is so worth the time, energy and expense. I highly recommend it to All.
To start at the beginning of this fabulous trip, please go to Part 1 USA Cross Country 2012 – RV Adventure
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