On the Road with Al & Ev – Heading East to Winslow, Maine

Evelyn Lerman
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Every summer we head east to our summer home at Camp Caribou in Winslow, Maine. We left Salem, SD, at 7 am, anxious to leave that muddy site.

When Allie came in from unplugging the van, he needed a full change of clothes. No problema, as they say, since the shower has become the laundry room. Lots of hooks and plenty of space for laundry, wet clothes, dirty shoes, the works. The day began with grey skies, rain, and wet fields, and we stopped for diesel at a gas station in Humboldt, SD. The young couple who greeted us were so friendly that we decided to have breakfast there. The typical McMuffin stuff, but also clean looking cold sandwiches (probably yesterday’s, but who cares?), hot coffee, hot tea, and home-made cinnamon buns. Not as good as Sue the Cook’s at camp, but good enough to share.

We drove through rain and fog—thankfully not on mountain roads—passing casinos, superstores, fields of green and brown earth, and lush farmland. Heading for Kellogg, Ill, which cannot be found on a map, but the Woodall guide said there was an RV park there and it’s always been right. Sally Mae (GPS lady) agreed, and we were on our way. No amenities to speak of, but we were warm and dry in our home. A bit of musing: we tend to be judgmental of people who are scruffy, not well groomed, unkempt. But, I can understand now that when you’re cold and wet, and you have to choose between a shower quite a distance away and staying warm and dry, the body says “keep warm”. I’ll be a little less judgmental in the future. We discovered we were back on Central Time, so that hour disappeared in a hurry.

A word about togetherness: in a 24′ RV, you eat together, drive together, shop together, do laundry together, cook together, watch TV together and then go to bed together. You get up together as well, because when one moves the other hears it. It sounds like it could be a problem, but it’s actually very cosy.

Audiotapes on the road: We ditched Hiaasen (boring) and listened to “The Appeal”. Grisham never disappoints. “Welcome to Iowa, fields of Opportunity”, said the sign. The cell phone came alive in Des Moines! So much rain that we had lunch on board. You can’t go wrong with bread, chicken and cheese, topped with a slice of tomato. The Ciabbata roll was courtesy of Walmart. Am I now a Walmart grocery shopper? Probably not, as soon as Publix appears. When we stopped for gas, the rain stopped and there was “An award winning restaurant” right across the street. We’re not sure who gave the award, but we managed.

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Iowa is beautiful with lush green fields and dark brown rich soil. Crops are everywhere. Is this the state they call the “breadbasket of the country?” Another lookup. We passed John Wayne’s birthplace and Allie saluted. When we arrived in Kellogg and settled in, we tried to rouse the computer and couldn’t do it. A call to the office produced, “Well, this kinda weatha, you ain’t likely to get no internet.” Fine. We settle in for supper and TV and bed.

The Kellogg RV Park in Iowa was unique. It boasted a gas station, RV hook-ups, and “Iowa’s Best Burger Cafe”, but no WiFi, no registration, just a slip from the cash register that said “Groceries”, no shower, a sign that said “Owned by Kellduff 5 and dime”. Since we almost never go out to supper (it means unplugging everything and returning in the dark) and this was close by, we decided we’d try it. A short walk later, and we were inside the gas station, through a door and there was the restaurant. Order, sit, we serve and clear, you pay when you leave. The menu was not the best for me: BBQ beef, deep fried anything you can think of, burgers of all types, and one light of hope: pork tenderloin. Could they grill it for me without salt? They could. They did. It was wonderful. Allie’s BBQ beef sandwich was $4.49 and my tenderloin was $5.49. Speaking of prices, prices at RV parks range from $20 (Kellogg RV Park) to $55 deluxe. Many people live in these parks all year, or make them home base and travel park to park. We have met some lovely folks who do this, but we love our two homes, Florida and Maine, too much to shift to RV living. It turns out that it really doesn’t matter what the park is like because we live in the van. As long as they offer full hook-up, showers and laundry, we’re all set.

Next we headed to Joliet, Ill, and along the way there were fields of corn and flat, flat, flat land. All green and brown and luscious and empty except for corn. Illinois is big on presidents: The Land of Lincoln, the birthplace of Ronald Reagan, the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library Historic Site. And it also honors the Black Hawk State Historic Park and the Middle East Conflicts Memorial Wall.

We found a lovely resort RV park, enjoyed good weather, a hot shower, we got all our laundry all done, and next we head to Ohio. It’s a big country, our USA, and well worth seeing but it will be good to get home.

Evelyn Lerman

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