Saturday, August 14, 2010

Come Heck or High Water

So the good news is we did not end up needing an amphibious RV. When we last left you, we were parked in an over-sized van 'down by the river' in Iowa, surfing the web for flood watch info. Normally I am not one to sweat the small stuff, but the fact is that walking around the campground, it was obvious it had flooded there recently (lots of dried mud). So we decided a 3:30 am wake up to check things was in order. Alarm set, I am off for a few hours of Z's. Jen of course does not really sleep, but then again being superhuman she really doesn't need any. 3:30 comes all too soon as it tends to during late nights of fun and/or early morning rising. Up and at 'em and no changes in weather alert status. As we are awake we decide to wrap things up and hit the road.

Katie in the garden at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum
We have a camp site reservation for Saturday, our only reservation for the trip, so we feel compelled to make it. An early start will put us that much closer as we cross the rest of Iowa, Minnesota and parts of South Dakota. Jen had requested a stop in Walnut Grove, Minnesota home of the Laura Ingalls Wilder museum a few miles north of the interstate we would be traveling on. A great plan, semi-well executed.

Our early AM departure was accompanied by lighting so I was feeling semi-smug in our decision. The fact that we didn't really see any rain until the next state is beside the point, and only counts for you Monday morning quarterbacks out there. We hit the highway and headed north, well north, west, north, turn a little west over there... You see in this part of the country we are off of the major highways (as we in the west like to call them Freeways but being as they charge tolls in these states - Free - not so much). We are on highways but ones with two lanes and going through instead of around the small towns. Little did I know we would shortly find ourselves on smaller roads as we navigated up through Minnesota.

We are cruising along enjoying the pre-dawn electric light show. Lightening so big Jen can see it with her eyes closed. My noble navigator is enjoying a few more minutes of beauty rest while I crack into my second Redbull (woot! let's make this RV fly). Making good time as we cross into MN and hit a little rain. Good news for you readers following our travel tale, the fix I had applied to the wipers has yet to be fully operationally tested. I find as long as the wipers don't go into high speed they seem to operate per the original design rather than the new improved wiper all-the-time-always mode. So slow speed works for me, preferring to leave my fixes untested, thus not requiring adjustment before I have had breakfast.

Walnut Grove here we come. Dawn strikes like the sun coming up over the horizon (damn personal metaphor engine has not kicked in yet folks, bear with me). Take that road over there, now turn right in 2 miles. My navigator fires off instructions while telling the youngest about the Ingalls crew. My take away on her take away, they are all dead and had horses which they had to get rid of before they died. Don't ask, some days her logic eludes me but I know she is a girl so I must be wrong and she right - at least that's how it works with women so we'll go with that.

I knew something was different when the instruction set began to be peppered with streets and roads rather than highways. Take road 930 for 2 miles then turn on 8th street, etc. Basically we are winding our way through mile long blocks of corn in a zig-zag pattern to get to where we are going. No worry up until we find the bridge out sign. Fiddlesticks (family blog here folks) we are going to have to detour. No problem, we have technology. I know of at least 2 dedicated GPS devices, 2 GPS enabled phones and 3 laptops with wireless access all within arms reach of my crack navigator. We pause and she sets to it. Now if you ever want to bug Jen you will just move too slow around her and what she found was that in the part of the country where we were, things don't move quickly. Not hating on the mid-west, I've lived there and love it, but when the GPS phone can't download the maps quickly enough to scroll to find a new route, you might understand how that could be frustrating. So we wait and eventually find the means to reroute to arrive at our target museum. Nice stop, I liked the
sod house the best. Jack sadly did not enjoy it. We had let him sleep in for the whole morning while we drove so he woke up only a bit before we arrived had his meds and just was not on his normal game. I had Jen sneak us out the back gate and he and I went to test the tan bark at the local park. It just wasn't doing it for him. We threw in the proverbial towel and he and I went back to the RV to sit in the AC. It seems to do the trick and he was shortly back to his normal self. Katie and Jen got back a little while later and Katie and I hit the park for our daily park visit. Sometimes Katie, like any good four year old, has trouble leaving a park but I have found a trick. Thunder. She's not scared of it, but it does give you a logic basis for convincing someone that it's time to go.

From Walnut Grove, MN we set a course to Mitchell, SD, home of the Corn Palace. Now when my parents took me and my sisters across the U.S. as kids, the corn palace did leave an impression. I mean it's a freakin' palace-o-corn. OK, as a grownup it's really a basketball stadium which they have covered the outside of with a corn mural. Still cool and we had a fun short visit.

We made it to our stop for the evening in Kennebec, SD where we settled in for a good night's sleep prior to the next day's assault on the Badlands and Mount Rushmore. More to come.

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