Category Archives: Indiana

Leaving the Storm Behind

I wrote my last post a few days ago from the COE park near Confluence, Pennsylvania on the Youghiogheny River. I should have mentioned how the name of that river is pronounced – the locals say YOCK-uh-gainee. Strange. We pulled out of there on Thursday morning. I had filled the fresh water and dumped the holding tanks on Tuesday before we left Gettysburg, so I didn’t bother with the dump station.

Our route took us across the northwest corner of Maryland and into West Virginia. We were constantly climbing or descending short, steep grades that are the Appalachian Mountains. On the descents, tractor-trailer rigs would grab another gear and pass us, but on the climbs, I motored back past them. Our destination was only 150 miles away – we went back to the Walmart in Parkersburg, West Virginia where we spent the night seven weeks earlier at the end of May.  The Walmart stop gave us a chance to restock the pantry.

We expected rain Friday morning, but it held off long enough for Donna to do a phone meeting to discuss a work project. We hit the road at 11:00am. We headed west on US50 into Ohio. We ran into the predicted thunderstorms – it rained heavily at times but we didn’t encounter high winds. Lightning strikes hit nearby a few times and it got dark.

The hills became a little rounder and less steep in southeast Ohio. We continued on US50 to Chillicothe where we stopped for fuel at the Flying J. Fuel is about 50 cents/gallon cheaper in Ohio than it was in Pennsylvania. I pumped 70 gallons at $3.21/gallon. Once we  were west of Chillicothe, the terrain flattened out. It was mostly farm fields with few hills.

We covered about 180 miles and stopped at Cabela’s in Centerville, near Dayton, Ohio. This turned out to be one of the smaller Cabela’s stores and it didn’t have dedicated RV parking. There was a sign in the parking for truck and RV parking, but no long stalls were marked anywhere in the lot. The lot on the east side of the store was empty, so I parked us across several stalls parallel to the building and facing south. Severe weather was in the forecast. The building to the west of us gave us some shelter from the wind. I was concerned about hail, we kept our fingers crossed. I checked with the customer service gal in the store and she told us we were fine where we parked.

Severe weather on the radar – we’re the black spot in the center

It rained heavily at times, but we didn’t get any hail. The worst of the storm was to the south and east of us. Donna took advantage of a break in the rain to walk to Costco in the adjacent plaza. Later, we watched a couple of recorded episodes of Shameless and the rain let up by the time we went to bed.

Donna was up before me on Saturday morning. When I got up she told me she thought we should get out of the area. The forecast called for rain to continue through Ohio and Indiana for the next four days. We originally thought about going to an Elks Lodge across the Indiana border, but that wouldn’t get us out of the weather. We wanted to find some sunshine!

After looking at a few options, we decided to make a westward push and follow the sun to Springfield, Illinois. This meant a long 340-mile day. I made it a bit longer when I made a mistake on a detour in Indianapolis. I-65 was closed in Indianapolis and we found ourselves wandering on narrow old streets between the White River and the speedway. Our GPS wasn’t much help – it said there were no legal routes for us from where we were. We were oversize for the roads.

Donna scrambled to find a route on Google maps on her laptop. We eventually made our way without any mishaps and got on I-465. We took I-74 and I-72 to reach Springfield. We found the Illinois State Fairgrounds where they have 300 RV sites. I checked us in and we booked a full hook-up 50-amp site for a week. One week cost $125 – our site is basically a paved parking lot with RV hook-ups, but the price is right, the weather forecast is good and there are sights to see in the Illinois State Capital.

The forecast calls for a high of 78 degrees today and the mid-80s for the rest of the week. There’s a slight chance of a passing shower, but no severe weather.


Yesterday I was up early and posted to the blog. After that I grabbed a breakfast sandwich and coffees at Subway and we hit the road. When we dry camp in a parking lot, it doesn’t take much preparation to drive away. I do a walkaround and make sure all of the compartments are secure, check the trailer and tires and that’s about it.

Speaking of the trailer, the owner’s manual recommends checking the torque on the lug nuts after the first 100 miles and every 1000 miles after that. I’ve read enough stories about lost wheels on various forums and blogs to believe this is a good idea. I’ve checked them a couple of times already. With the torque wrench set to the specified 100ft-lbs it just clicked with no movement of the lug nut, indicating the nuts were tight. Before we left Green Acres Lake Resort, I checked them again. To my surprise, three of the five lug nuts on the right side moved slightly before the torque wrench clicked. I don’t know what it is about trailer wheels that causes lugs to loosen.

Shortly after we started to drive up US30, I stopped for fuel and coffee at a Speedway gas station with lots of room around the pumps. As I pumped fuel, Donna went in to get coffee. She also signed us up for a Speedway rewards program. Donna’s always thinking. I pumped $168 worth of gas into the tank. At this rate, we should earn rewards! I also paid with my Chase Visa card. For the third quarter, July though September, it gives me 5% cash back on gasoline purchases!

I haven’t been looking at the map lately. Donna has taken over the navigation duties. This created an issue after an hour of driving. I had said to Donna that I didn’t want to be anywhere near Chicago. I should have stated this more clearly by saying something like I don’t want to be within a 100-mile radius of Chicago.

She saw US30 as a way to skirt past Chicago but she didn’t realize how much urban sprawl there is in the area. This route took us stoplight to stoplight through Chicago Heights. This would be a very bad place to have a breakdown! The police had surveillance cameras on the sidewalks. After a couple of hours, we’d only covered about 40 miles and finally got on I-80 west and got out of there.

From there we drove on country roads for a while. Our intention was to reach Madison, Wisconsin for another dry camp night and then on to Minneapolis for a week long stay. As always, flexibility is our motto as plans have a way of changing.

We stopped for lunch in a closed truck weigh station. I fired up the generator and charged my laptop, ran the roof AC while Donna heated up leftover chili in the microwave. We both took showers and Donna did a little work on the computer before we got back on our way. The stop took about an hour.

Once underway, Donna began looking for a campsite to book in Minneapolis. This is when we had to change our plan. This weekend there is a festival there and all of the campsites we wanted were booked. Donna booked us into our first choice campground Sunday through next Thursday. Then we had to figure out what to do until Sunday.

We decided to find a campground along the way and just relax for a few days. That brings us to our present location at the KOA in Oakdale, Wisconsin. This is a nice park, a little too close to I-90/94 for our taste but we have a long pullthrough site with full hookups including 50 amp service. I opted to purchase a KOA membership for $24 and got a $12 discount on our stay. If we stay a few more days in KOAs over the next year it will pay off.

They put us in site 2. When we pulled into the site, we both thought it was sub par. No shade and only one site away from the interstate noise. Before I hooked up, I reconnoitered the area. Sites 4 and 5 were superior with shade trees and farther away from the traffic noise. Donna went to the office and asked if we could change sites. They said okay so we are in site 5. We learned it doesn’t hurt to ask!

For dinner, I grilled garlic-rubbed flank steak with chimichurri sauce. As usual Donna did all the work. All I did was heat it and eat it. Yummy.

Grilled garlic-rubbed flank steak with chimichurri sauce

Grilled garlic-rubbed flank steak with chimichurri sauce

After dinner a Royale coach by Monaco, built on a Prevost chassis showed up and parked in the site we were originally in. This million-dollar luxury coach belongs to Steve “Doc” Hopkins. He and his daughter are top fuel motorcycle drag racers. He also owns the Harley Davidson dealership in Shawano County, Wisconsin. They are on their way back from the motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota. A coach like this is something I can only dream of.

Royale Coach by Monaco on a Prevost chassis

Royale Coach by Monaco on a Prevost chassis

We crossed two state lines as we went from Indiana, through Illinois and into Wisconsin. Today I think we’ll scoot over to Humbird Cheese Mart. We are in Wisconsin so we might as well sample cheese! We’ll chill out here until Sunday and then move 200 miles to Prior Lake, just southwest of Minneapolis.


Doc's trailer

Doc’s trailer

A Day in the Life

Tuesday, August 6th was our first “working day.” Donna had things to do. She needed to complete a couple of projects. I stayed out of her way in the morning by hauling our laundry to the park’s laundromat. Donna says there’s nothing sexier than a man doing the dishes. I wonder if doing the laundry trumps that. I passed the time by reading a book while enjoying the view of the pond. I’m reading Covert by Bob Delaney – a book Donna’s brother-in-law, Tom lent me.

One of Donna’s projects was to complete her application to be a presenter at the annual conference of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO). The application required a short video segment. We set up in the motorhome and shot the video. I’ll link to it later in YouTube.

Donna had a visitor in the afternoon and they took a short hike around the campground. It seems like wherever we are, she knows someone. She is the queen of networking. This paid off in a big way when she was contacted yesterday via Facebook by our mail carrier back in Michigan to let us know that there’s a problem with forwarding our mail. I don’t understand how this happened. Donna submitted the online form and received confirmation via email and mail. And the letter carriers confirmed forwarding information in person. But somehow the post office has no record of our forwarding address. Our regular letter carrier, Betty, has been holding our mail and reached out to Donna yesterday. Donna went online and re-submitted the forwarding information (and paid the fees again).

I wish I could report something exciting about our stay at the Green Acres Lake RV park. It was just a day in the life. Yesterday we packed up. I filled our fresh water tank, stopped at the dump station and hit the road. Fresh water full and holding tanks empty – the only way to fly.

Donna studied the maps and navigated our route. I felt good and put in about 350 easy miles. This brought us to Walmart in Valparaiso, Indiana. 350 miles might not seem like much in your car, but in a rig like ours, it’s a long day. We crossed I-75 about 45 miles south of Toledo – which is 2 hours south of where we started two weeks ago! Getting to Walmart required faith in our GPS – we call her “Nally.” She directed us off US30 into a narrow tree lined street. No Walmart or houses – just trees. The she had us turn on another narrow street that looked like a road to nowhere. We rounded a curve and there it was. We entered the Walmart parking lot from the backside. This turned out to be the simplest way in, otherwise we would have had to exit US30 and do a series of U-turns to access the entrance.

Once we parked we went inside to seek permission for overnight parking. The customer service girls were a little confused by my request – they though I was a trucker parking an 18-wheeler and said it wasn’t allowed. Once they understood I was parking an RV, they told me where to park it. Donna and I took a stroll through the store. I wasn’t sure about the liquor laws in Indiana. I remembered going to a liquor store in Indianapolis before before but didn’t know if Walmart carried beer, wine or liquor.

There it was – a liquor aisle. Walmart sells liquor in Indiana and the price for bourbon is a fair bargain. They had a bourbon I’ve been wanting to sample, Bulleit Bourbon, for less than $30 for 750ml. Makers Mark was only $23. I bought both!

While we were in the store a thunder storm poured rain. It subsided quickly but the heat and humidity remained. It’s in the mid 80s and the humidity is unbearable. We went to a restaurant across the parking lot for an early dinner – made early by the fact we are now in the Central Time Zone. I left windows open and the fantastic fan running in our coach. After we ate, another thunder storm arrived and it rained hard. I was anxious to get back to our coach, I was wondering how much water was coming in through the open windows. The fantastic fan pulls air through a roof vent and it has a rain sensor to automatically shut the vent when it rains. After ten minutes or so the rain stopped, we returned to coach and found a little wetness but no  big deal.

I sampled the bourbons (both are excellent) and we hit the sack early. Today we’ll drive through Illinois and into Wisconsin.