Hitting the road again is always an exciting time. For ME. I’ve been this way since youth and I love it. I’m a wandering soul — no denying it. Saturday dawned DRY and a little less windy than it had been of late — a good day to head South! With meds in hand we raised jacks, retracted slides, stowed our satellite antenna and hot footed it for warmer climes.
We have until January 3 to cover about 1400 miles so it’s not like we’re in any hurry. That said, we never do long trips at this time of year — the reduced daylight hours are a challenge for the first couple days out of Milwaukee. The thing is, I have done so many trips covering the first 500-600 miles from Milwaukee that I usually just try to get through it and I’m not much for stopping off and seeing things. How many times do I want to see the same places? But there is the idea of fewer driving hours… forcing me to think short. So Saturday our destination is Effingham, IL — about 330 miles from Milwaukee.
The only problem with that theory — and what you just read was a theory when I wrote it in the wee hours of Saturday morning. But 7 hours later, half way to Effingham I changed my mind. I love being retired and being ABLE to change my mind. We changed our route and ended up about 100 miles beyond Effingham.
You see…. it’s like this….
The more I thought about how many miles in the next three days were going to be two lane the less I wanted to do them. I have a real love/hate relationship with two lanes. When relaxed I love to drive back roads — but if I get it in my head that I’m ‘pushed’ — even if there’s no good reason for feeling that way — then a two lane road is the last thing I want to see. Saturday mid-day I just wasn’t buying ‘relaxed.’
The change took us to Marion IL. We had planned on staying with Uncle Wally. But as we went past the Walmart in Effingham and Peggy commented on how many cars were parked in the lot at 2 p.m. I finally thought about the one thing that completely eluded me. Do you think that there might be a lot of cars parked in the Walmart lot in Walmart the second last Saturday before Christmas? Duh….
Talk about freaking out! I never even thought about Christmas shoppers! After a couple hours of nerves we pulled into Marion and found that the lot wast as full as Effingham had been, and we located ourselves at the South end of the parking lot — near the Goodwill store as noted in our AllStays Walmart parking app. It was a nice quiet night. We left Milwaukee at 7:30 and pulled into Marion about 5 p.m. A full day.
Walmart parking is something I haven’t spoken much about. We haven’t spent a night in a Walmart lot since May. On our return trip from Oregon on I-94 we spent 4 nights with Uncle Wally — So, we will have camped at Wally World a total of 5 nights in 2015. This isn’t something we’re big on. I’d much rather stay at a park and there are usually options to choose from; but sometimes the spirit moves us…
There is a bit of protocol when using Walmart. Many of their locations are OK with RV’ers parking overnight (meaning a SINGLE overnight) as long as you buy a little something at the store, as long as you don’t drop your jacks or extend your slides. The best resource is from Allstays.com. There are also locations that do not allow overnight stays — sometimes as a store policy and sometimes as a city or municipal regulation. We are careful about not pushing the ‘concept’ of overnight. Making yourself at home — leveling, extending, barbecuing in the parking lot, etc. are — simply put — just being rude and poor guests. We have seen RV’ers do all of the no-no’s — leaving indents in the asphalt from their jacks, extending slides into traffic lanes — you name it. In terms of ruining things for other RV’ers I think it’s just polite to have as little impact upon a commercial lot as possible. We are there by their kindness. They don’t have to allow us to overnight there — nor do they have to allow semi’s — and some Walmarts host truckers overnight too. Being a good guest ought to be common sense, but common sense isn’t so common it would seem. It’s private property. Behave there as you would want guest to your own home to behave.
In the end, we put on about 450 miles Saturday. More than I like. But sometimes I do things like that. Arriving at a Walmart early in the day feels dump to me. And what’s the sense of staying lo-key when you cold be doing something — like getting in a few extra miles. If we are in a park / RV resort there are things to do and we take advantage of the resources. We like parks. We aren’t huge about RV resorts but we visit them too from time to time. And when Uncle Wally has his welcome mat out we pull in late (for us), grab a quick bite of dinner, watch a little TV or do a little blogging, and then hit the sack. Our bed is usable with both slides retracted. I can put up the DISH antenna if I want without jacks or slides. Or we can use the air channels — as we did Saturday night — we ended up watching Mary Poppins and I forgot how much animation there was in that movie — it was a nice refresher.
From Marion we headed out at 7:30. We had time for coffee muffins (bought the day before in Milwaukee in anticipation of a quick-bite-breakfast). We made it through Memphis before the church crowd were turned loose on the city and I pumped 73 gallons of diesel at $1.95 — for the first sub $2.00/gallon fill up in years. I had been planning on another night with Uncle Wally, then three nights at Pickensville AL COE and 3 nights at Service AL COE before pulling into Fort Pickens N.P. at Gulf Shores FL. But the more I thought about it, and having gotten that extra 100 miles under our belt we decided to return to Grenada Lake where we spent a month last year, then to hit Service AL, and Fort Pickens. That took out an extra stop (set up and take down and movement), we get to spend more time in fewer places and it just felt better.
Also, when I went online to check on availability at Fort Pickens I discovered that whereas 2-3 weeks ago there were oodles and oodles of open sites (50+) as of last night they were down to 4 long enough for us. I hadn’t been planning on reservations but decided that safer is better than sorry.
We’d had so much nice weather in Milwaukee that we needed a little fog to just to even us out. Most of Saturday was spent in the fog — literally and figuratively. Sunday was overcast and windy — much of it a headwind. But when I get it in my head to get something done…
It’s funny how you forget little things; parts of your routine when you do them regularly, embarrassing or startling moments when you forget them. For example, there is the matter of our over-the-door awning. It’s a Carefree of Colorado unit and for whatever reason when the wind is right the vertical arms vibrate harmonically with the windspeed. The noise they make can be quite frightening if you don’t know what it is. We have encountered this before and simply wrapping a piece of velcro around both the upright and the bracket on the outer-wall of the coach stops the vibration completely. But only when you remember to do it. If you extend the awning and forget to wrap it — zowey! What a noise!
I’m sure we all have our regular routines — and sometimes we forget this or that portion of the routine. We used to go through a checklist — now I think we lost the checklist. Such is life. That awning straps were the only thing we know we forgot. I wonder what we’ll discover tomorrow?
Ok — that’s enough for two days. Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.