Sunday, April 3, 2011

Day Eleven | Where are the Iowa signs? and The End ...

Day eleven (Sunday, April 3) started, once again, from a Walmart parking lot. We hit the road at a record breaking 7:22am. Our number one goal for the day was to take our picture in front of an Iowa state sign. We had attempted a couple times coming down, but had no luck finding a sign. We stopped at a couple rest areas, but there was never any sign indicating it was located in Iowa (maybe they don't want  you to know where you are?). Weird. So we gave up and compromised ... we spelled out IOWA with our body parts in front of an Iowa sign at a Iowa rest stop!

This will be my last blog entry as we are 'getting back to reality' this afternoon. We just left Albert Lea, where we filled our propane tank and emptied our dirty tanks. We have about two hours until we get home. Tonight we have tickets to see Stomp at the Ordway, so we will return the RV Monday night.

I'll be honest in saying I'm kinda sad to see our trip come to an end. It was fun. We had a great time exploring the 'middle of America'. We would love to do it again. Thanks for following us during our adventure.

Final statistics: 3,471 miles, $1,631.25 spent on gas, $99.91 on souvenirs and $550.55 on tourist traps. We visited nine states, had no fights* and only one injury.

* I don't want to imply we didn't have any spats along the way, but overall it was very peaceful. The girls did very well driving the 3,471 miles.

Day Ten | 650 feet underground, a shower, Amelia Earharts birthplace and Nebraska

Day ten (Saturday, April 2) started from another Walmart parking lot. We drove to the Kansas Underground Salt Mine Museum. Cool. Very cool. We rode a hoist 650 feet underground to a working salt mine. It was another cool stop (did I say that already?). I would suggest it to anyone in the area. We could have stayed another couple hours, but had to get on the road. Lots of miles yet to get home ...

The 'canisters' on the girls' hips are breathing apparatus' that we were trained to use in case of a collapse. Nice, huh? I almost turned back after two minutes into the safety video. We got back in the RV and headed to a local campground for a free shower. We continued through Kansas and stopped in Atchison to the home of Amelia Earhert - it was closed, but a nice stop. We did a couple cool geocaches near her house and headed back on the road to Nebraska.

Here we are in front of Amelia's home acting as if we are airplanes (Paradis didn't think it was funny). We filled up with gas and proceeded north to Nebraska. Filling up is a thirty minute ordeal - it takes a lot of time to fill an eighty gallon tank! Annelies plays on top, Scott fills the tank (he has to hold the nozzle the whole time as it shuts off) and Paradis cleans the windows. We are getting about 6.5 miles per gallon.

What am I doing when they are filling up the gas tank, you ask? I've given myself the label of 'Navigator' on this trip. The description for my role would probably fill ten pages if one took the time to type it up (OK, maybe I'm exagerating a bit) but here are a few things I'm responsible for (or at least have control over):
  • Navigating the GPS and paper atlas we just bought in Arkansas so Scott can simply drive.
  • Looking ahead to tourist traps we can enjoy along the way. This includes looking for RV dump stations, gas and state welcome signs.
  • Calculating our trip costs, along with gas mileage statistics (Scott's obsession).
  • Updating this blog on a daily basis. May seem simple, but it is hard work!
  • Organize, clean and organize some more. If you know me, you know I like an organized space. Every couple hours I 'tidy up' the RV to make sure we all have room to move and I don't go crazy.
  • Keep the peace in a 36 foot RV. That means make sure the kids have plenty to do and our driver is happy.
  • Prepare/cook most (if not all) of the meals. The girls are pretty self-sufficient in our rig, but if I left it up to Annelies she would only eat snacks the whole 3,000 miles!
  • Maintain our 'What we learned' journal for the trip. This includes items to pack, what to do in advance of the trip, tips on traveling, etc. We will use that for future trips. 
  • Basically everything ... but driving. [Scott told me to include that, and added that I'm a great co-pilot.]
Notice I didn't include knitting in my job description. I had one knitting goal during this trip - to complete a blanket I'm making for a friend. A small project really, one I thought would be easy to complete. I haven't even knit 1/3 of it as I write during the last 300 miles of our trip. Oh well, I've enjoyed being Navigator!

On the road again ... It was dark and we were making our way to the last of the nine states on our trip; Nebraska. Scott didn't want to pull over on the side of the road and run back to the sign we just passed, at dark, next to a busy highway, to take our classic photo of the state sign as he was worried about the kids getting ran over. "Oh come on," I said, "What is more important? Kids that are alive or a photo of the state sign?" I guess he voted for safety because we drove around looking for a Nebraska sign in the town of Nebraska City.  Here is what we found ...

We set up our tripod and snapped a shot of the illuminated sign. The girls thought it was hilarious! I'm sure everyone driving by did as well.We stayed parked outside the Sheriff's station and had a little dinner before heading home toward Iowa.

We ended up just outside Omaha Nebraska in a city called Council Bluffs at another Walmart. A quiet night in preparation for our last day on the road.

Day ten:  405 miles (3,082 total). $211.6 on gas ($1,541.25 total). $19.91 on souvenirs ($99.91 total). $36 tourist traps ($550.55 total). Four states (Nine total). No fights (0 total). No injuries (1 total).

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Day Nine | Good-Bye mom and dad, Oklahoma City Bombing Museum and another Walmart

Day nine (Friday, April 1) started early for us. OK, we weren't on the road until 8:26am but that was early for us! We have learned that we are not early birds. We left mom and dad (and Sassy) and headed to Oklahoma City.

We entered Oklahoma (our seventh state for the trip) ...

And arrived at the Oklahoma City Bombing Museum. This was my favorite museum of the trip. Wow. It was amazing. It gave us so much information about the bombing from the beginning to the end and it was done in good taste - you will have to see it to understand what I mean.

One chair for each person killed in the bombing.

We drove into Kansas after dark. So we pulled the RV up to the sign and snapped a shot! Welcome state number eight! Annelies looks a little crabby in the photo, and she was. When we saw the signed I yelled, "Hey guys!" so loud it completely freaked her out (she was watching a movie in the back). Her heart was racing so fast, because she thought Scott had a heart attack (Why? I have no idea)!

We arrived in Hutchinson Kansas at another Walmart parking lot to sleep for the night. Scott and I agree this is our favorite overnight location. It feels safe and we are always welcomed (with a quick call ahead to the manager). We can arrive, open up the RV and be sleeping within minutes. And all for free ... we love it!

Day nine:  579 miles (2,677 total). $219.02 on gas ($1,329.57 total). $27.40 on souvenirs ($80 total). $60 tourist traps ($490.55 total). Four states (Eight total). No fights (0 total). No injuries (1 total).

Day Eight | A day of digging in the mine ... complete success

Day eight (Thursday, March 31) we started from my mom and dad's house. We drove about two hours toward Little Rock, Arkansas and went to a Quartz Mine in Jessieville. It was called Jim Coleman's Quartz Mine. We had a lot of fun. I completely got into digging for the quartz as did my mom and Paradis. Annelies found a friend, a two-year old girl, who she hung with the whole day. We had good luck and found lots of quartz - clear 'crystals' found in the earth.

I just realized I didn't take any pictures of the quartz, I will have to do that later. We are now on the road and they are in the 'basement' of our camper, underneath. They are basically clear crystals, almost like a diamond, but large. This was a very messy job. We came home and had to wash everything we brought along including our shoes, clothes, digging tools.

Day eight:  0 miles (2,098 total). $0 on gas ($832.42 total). $0 on souvenirs ($52.60 total). $20 tourist traps ($463.55 total). One state (Six total). No fights (0 total). No injuries (1 total).