Ken and Shan's Retirement Odyssey

Note: our plan was to "see the USA" over a period of months, traveling in our 37-foot motor home, with our dog Missy.

Day 1: Wednesday, June 10, 1992

The worst part about a trip — for me — is getting ready to go. I don't even mind unpacking from a trip when it's all over. It's the choosing, I think. What to take; what to leave; worries about what's forgotten. “Oh, well,” I say, “I guess if we need it we can buy it on the way.” However, some things can’t be purchased — a favorite piece of jewelry, or the t-shirt I sleep in that’s been washed a thousand times and feels like an old handkerchief, for example. (No, I didn’t forget the t-shirt this time!)

Packing for the Moose (the motor home, for those of you who aren’t familiar with our affectionate term for the 37’ gray diesel-pusher Eurocoach) can be even worse than for a plane or car trip, because it includes food, computers, sewing machine, books, tapes, dog food/toys, you name it, we brought it along.

We started loading up at 7:30 a.m. today, making a million trips back and forth from the house to the Moose, almost forgetting (God forbid), our pillows! (That’s another thing you can’t replace on the road — the favorite hugging pillow.) Three and one-half hours later, with feet of blisters and arches all but collapsed, we were packed up. A shower and fresh clothes and we were ready.

Promptly (I say promptly, because when you’re on a vacation of unknown length, any time is the right and prompt time), we pulled out of the driveway, exhausted and (at least me) a little crabby. Our white bichon friese tornado, Missy, was finally satisfied to be sitting on the front dashboard, taller than anyone in the world (something that doesn’t happen very often to someone 16 pounds and 8 inches high), bidding farewell to the smells she knows so well, to venture into a world where each stop for a break or food is a whole new "nose" adventure. She had known for the past three days something was up, when the Moose showed up in our driveway. Her excitement began with the advent of the Moose, and continued with every trip in or out of the house from then on. She was terrified that we would leave her behind and she became like the ever-present piece of toilet paper caught on your shoe as she pasted herself to our ankles wherever we went in our efforts to get ready.

As we left I wrote in the trip journal: “11:36 a.m., odometer reading 11,477; hours on engine 315; hours on generator 311.5.” On our way out of town we stopped to pick up two new tennis racquets Ken was having strung, moved smartly to I-75. Here we were, on our way. Talk about excitement! Well, not exactly. We were both so tired, we copped out and pulled off at the first campground we saw (highway 54 not too far from where the Moose resides when it’s not in use), and parked in the shade. I slept for an hour, Ken read. So, with renewed energy and commitment we headed North again, this time running out of steam in Ocala, where we stopped at the Silver Springs Campground and plugged in for the night. One of the most attractive parts of the campground was the fact it had cable and Ken could watch the basketball game. So, a whopping 111 miles for our first day of vacation. Oh well, no one said we had to be in a hurry.

My intention from the start was to begin a video tape of our adventure. So far I have not had the interest, nor has there been anything particularly interesting to shoot! Mostly empty campgrounds, a dog taking a leak, a man washing a big bug off the Moose front window. Wow! What a documentary that would make. Couldn’t you just die to see it? In any case, I can’t find the instructions (something else I must have left at home), so I don’t know how to get a date to appear on the picture.

Day 1 ended early for me, leaving Ken falling asleep watching the basketball game. Actually, that’s what I do, too, when I watch a game. I guess the difference between men and women is that women go to bed to sleep, and men prefer sleeping in front of the TV.

Day 2: Thursday, June 11

First thing this morning we watched Ross Perot for two hours. Fascinating! I almost dropped over when one of his callers asked what Ross would do if he became president. His reply was something like “The first thing I’d do is get training for all government employees, to teach them to be nice to the citizens — teach them to serve them well. Then I’d get working on fixing the bureaucracy.” Those words describe the very foundation of our company: customer satisfaction improvement and busting bureaucracy.

After Ken’s walk, breakfast, showers, cleaning up (I’ve become a domestic overnight!), we started looking at maps. Friends had shared a book that shows all the interesting things to see off major North-South, and East-West roads. We pored over that, determining that we weren’t particularly interested in Steven Foster’s museum, and that we’d probably start our sight-seeing a little further North. (We’re going a little North first. to get out of the heat.) The idea is to get to highway 80, and take that West.

The Division of Labor
No, the division of labor is not a government institution. What I’m talking about here is how Ken and I divide up the chores, since you’re probably dying to know. Ken is the “outside” person; I am the “inside” person. That means he has to empty the toilet from the outside, while I’m responsible for cleaning it from the inside. He hooks up the electricity, while I use the electricity to cook, or vacuum. He hooks up the water; I do the dishes with it. See how it works? We normally split up some of the driving, with Ken generally starting and ending the day, so he does more. Some people are surprised that I would drive the Moose, however, it’s easy if all you ever do is go forward. I never have backed it up; I suppose some day I’ll have to learn. It’s only scary when I think that there are actually 37 feet of house following me down the highway.

We left at 10:30 a.m. after Ken talked to radio show hostess Kim Shinebaum from Philadelphia, who was arranging for a 30-minute show to interview Ken — in September when his book will be out. After they talked about the plans, it sounds as if there may be two shows. One on “Busting Bureaucracy” and one on customer relations. Her show is taped and sent to various participating radio stations around the US, reaching 400,000 people, she said.
We also talked to Jeff, Ken’s publisher, who seems anxious to also publish the government version of the book. So, we may just end up heading to the Chicago area (Homewood, Illinois), first, to finalize that. And you thought we were on vacation.
138 miles North of Ocala, we were “drawn” to a campground near Lake Park Georgia (at least we’re out of state; that’s some accomplishment!). It’s a lovely, shaded place, called Eagles Roost, with paved parking spots and cable TV. Plus, it has 50 amp hookups which allows us to run both air conditioners at the same time. At the moment I’m freezing to death. Can’t wait until we get out of this hot weather so I can warm up (that only makes sense to Floridians who know that summer air conditioning is colder than winter weather).

Day 3: Friday, June 12

Up early and on the road by 9:30 a.m. toward Chattanooga. We stopped in Perry, Georgia, having driven in drizzle, to find the temperature had dropped enough that we changed into jeans and sweaters. Hope that isn’t the way it will be all week! There was a big accident on the highway, causing all three lanes to virtually stop. One nice thing about having a CB radio is being able to find out what’s going on. Truckers going South were talking on channel 19 about the accident — evidently a car and a truck, with bodies scattered across the roadway. While we listened someone mentioned the Eurocoach in the next lane, so Ken responded. One of the truckers asked him to choose another channel, so they could continue their conversation. They talked about retirement, which he would have in another year, traveling around the US, which we were about to do, etc. The sitting time passed quickly in conversation, and soon we were past the accident, as the police were using the last body bags for the dead. It must have been terrible. The car had no rear wheels at all — simply torn off. Thank your lucky stars not to have been involved!
It turned out to be a good driving day, with overcast skies keeping the Moose cool. We settled in at the Holiday Travel park just South of Chattanooga. Saw the Bulls win their third game.

Day 4: Saturday, June 13

Another rainy day. Drove to a nearby shopping center and saw the movie “House Sitter.” Cute. Music was terrific; must have been original. Stayed the second night at same campground.

Day 5: Sunday, June 14

Still raining. Decided to go on to Nashville with the hopes the weather would clear; it rained all the way. Remember the division of labor? Today it paid off for me. Ken was “dumping,” with hoses that were to be replaced. He waited just one dump too many, and it broke all over the place. What a mess and what a clean up. I spoke a lot of encouragement and empathy. Missy sniffed and watched. I said I’d rather cook for a week with no “thank yous” than do what he was doing.
Ken drove through the Cumberlands, which are North of Chattanooga. It’s always interesting to see how the trucks and big motor homes struggle up one side of the mountain, with a third lane added for those of us who can’t “keep up.” Then it’s downhill at a 5% slope; everyone with their foot on the brakes, hoping not to slip in the rain and fog. A little tense but over fairly quickly. Usually the view is lovely. Today there was no view except the clouds which had settled over the mountains and the mountains steamed as if they were on fire (must be why the Smokies are called that; surely looks like smoke).
We stopped for fireworks, which Tennessee is famous for. Don’t know what we’ll use them for, but you never know. Maybe we’ll be somewhere interesting for the 4th of July.
Arrived Nashville noonish, at 12,235 miles on the odometer. This is my favorite campground — a KOA near Music City and Grand Old Oprey! The campground has lots to do, with an evening show of country music from the backup bands at the music hall, miniature golf, nice place to do laundry, good pull through sites, and best of all, yes, a catfish restaurant within walking distance.
So, after having a couple of hours to relax — me learning more about the new computer drawing program called Canvas — we had our obligatory catfish supper while Missy kept watch on the dashboard. Mmm. Catfish, fried pickles (yes!), cornbread with jalapenos, beans, etc. all served on pie tins, with drinks in tin cups.
One of the changes we made in the Moose was to get rid of the small green side chair and replace it with a larger, wall-hugger, recliner. That chair has made a huge difference in Ken’s comfort for reading or watching TV.
I’m writing this after supper as the Bulls and Portland are fighting tooth and nail for the sixth game. By the time you read this you’ll know the outcome, but so far we don’t.

Day 6: Monday, June 15

Bright, sunny day. Today we’re reserving for errands such as laundry, some “house” cleaning, washing Missy etc. Not a lot of excitement, but it will keep us busy. Talked to son Andy last night. He’s staying at our beach condo in Sand Key this week and making the long trip to work each day. Good luck on the Howard Franklin! Ken talked to his folks. They sound well; said Susan and Kelly enjoyed their time at the condo, though Kelly evidently got some sun burn.
Monday turned out to be a very quiet day at the KOA campground in Nashville. We did indeed wash the dog (she didn’t appreciate that); did three loads of laundry, while talking to folks who love country music and have all been to Branson, Missouri (where I thought we ought to at least visit to see what the excitement is all about, and where, after listening to the folks in the laundromat am convinced we really don’t need to do that).
Ken spent a lot of time on the phone trying to find a place to fix our cruise control. It hasn’t worked the past two days and it’s really an important part of long trips. Holding your foot on the accelerator for long periods is not impossible, but surely does tire out the old ankle! He finally settled on a place in South Holland, near Chicago, for a Friday morning appointment, and we located this campground in Tinley Park. Would you believe there is not one single campground in the entire metropolitan Chicago area? What a business opportunity for someone, don’t you think?
I see, in looking at my notes, that I wrote the word “boring” down the left side of the page. I also wrote three questions: “Is the Moose enough?” “What is it that makes a great day?” and “Do I really want to do housework for a whole summer?” Gosh, with those kinds of critical philosophical questions, I can’t understand why the word “boring” appeared. I did decide about the second question and answered it with “people.” The three of us make a nice family, but I wish we could pop friends and family in and out as well. That would make a great day.
I got the color printer out to create a color version of the new quilt I’m working on, and wanted to see how it looks. It is really something. I’m really enjoying it. 256 colors, would you believe?
At night we went to the show in the campground tent, to listen to some country music. The show was being put on by a couple (don’t remember their names); she on the base fiddle, he on guitar, both singing. We had been listening to some opera during the day, so this was quite a change. A lady in front of us wore a t-shirt that said “Our flag — honor it — don’t burn it.” And the highlight joke of the night came from the male singer: “We were so poor my mother took in laundry — and we kept it.” We took Missy and sat in the back row. She got restless, so we left early. I think she likes opera better.

Day 7: Tuesday, June 16

Up early. Not used to the time change. So, we were on the road Florida time at 7:30. Today was to be a big day. We were going to Paducah (anyone remember Jimmy Durante’s “Paducah, Paducah”?). Exit 4 on the highway takes you immediately to the Hancock crafts/fabric store — 16,000 feet of pure joy! Last time I was there (a year ago), I lost myself in the materials. It’s addictive, I hear. So, here we were again, me having a ball wandering around trying to decide what patterns to buy, and Ken and Missy waiting patiently for me in the Moose.
Oh yes, we had settled by now that Ken wouldn’t have to spend time in Chicago with his publisher. Jeff would work with someone at Kaset to pick pieces from the finished book, in order to fatten up the government book.
We had lunch in “downtown” Paducah, which reminded me of Ybor City, with its old buildings and southern aura. It’s on the river, and they’re trying to fix it up with river walks and restoring some charm to the old buildings. There’s an old railroad station that’s a museum, an old steam engine, antique shops, and bed and breakfasts.
We came downtown so I could visit the national quilt museum. Actually, Ken went with me, although his interest waned a bit earlier than mine. It is a spectacular place, with one room dedicated to permanent quilts that were winners from the national shows. You wouldn’t believe these quilts. They are more art than craft. One would think one might become inspired by the handwork. Intimidated is more like it! The creativity with materials, colors, patterns, stitches, is beyond belief. There are two other rooms, one which is used for traveling quilts that go to other cities, the third for quilts of older times when the variety of materials and creativity of design was not so apparent. They were sturdy, useful quilts probably well used by the families whose women made them. In any case, my eyes began to ache from scrutinizing the works, to see what I could learn. It truly was overwhelming and I’ll want to go back another time, to see more.
Ken stopped at an AAA store and got more trip tickets for our western tour, and we grocery shopped before falling exhausted into Fern Lake campground. Only 30 amps, but it was shady so we didn’t roast./

Day 8: Wednesday, June 17

Today I cleaned the carpet. No, it wasn’t the dog. Ken threw Missy’s bear down the center isle and it landed on a big glass of iced tea which promptly spilled on all of us, the carpet, and the dinette seat. Oh well, the rug needed to be vacuumed, anyway (anyone ever see the ad for the compact, powerful Royal vacuum that you use on hands and knees? Right!)
I’ve given up quilting on the road. My fingers had holes from stabbing myself as we hit even the smallest of pot holes. Never see them coming and so it’s too late to stop the needle. I’d have a red quilt if I kept that up.
We stopped at the Southern Illinois Arts and Crafts center near Exit 77. I expected just typical crafts, but we found much to our surprise that these were really pieces of art. The creators are only allowed to show after they submit slides and are selected by a panel of judges. I’d really like to go back and spend more time. Each piece is truly lovely. Everything from quilts (I see them everywhere I go), to paintings, photographs, sculpture, etc. I bought another Santa for my collection. An ex coal miner (lady) makes these. Each one is different and each has a different personality. Mine (named by Ken as Herald for Hark the Herald, you know), had the most cheerful of the various countenances.
Ken was kind enough to find out about a doctor for my persistent (8 days) ear ache. So we wandered to Mt. Vernon, where, $100 later I had been confirmed as indeed having an ear ache and here are some drops for it. Hope it goes away. No luck so far.
When I look at the way we spend time it seems that it’s mostly on food (shopping, preparing, eating, thinking about eating, cleaning up, thinking about eating again, etc.), and looking for campgrounds (how close to the road, does it have 50 amps, is there cable, how many W’s does it have —Woodall’s prints a huge catalog which rates them from no W’s to five W’s).
Spent an hour at a Shell station in Salem, Illinois, hoping to get the dash air fixed. It’s over 95 degrees on the road, and windy, and even with both roof airs running from the generator, we’re sticky and hot. No luck.
Our destination today was a campground in Effingham, near Charleston where son Andy went to school (Eastern Illinois). We went up and down hills to reach it. When we got there it was a very wooded campground, high up over a small lake. Very pretty and terribly windy from an impending storm. I spent many summers in Southern Indiana as a kid, where the wind storms cause huge damage to trees and homes. The sound of that kind of wind gets my spine to “woogling.”
Ken saw the stark terror in my eyes as we saw the 5 o’clock news and the predictions of thunderstorms and possible tornadoes. This storm front had been moving from Minnesota, where it created terrible damage and Yikes! was heading our way (probably). So, bless his heart, he unplugged and we chugged back into Effingham where we moved our clothes and toothbrushes, in plastic bags, (our high class suitcase) along with Missy, into the Ramada Inn. Yes, hotels do take dogs (she wasn’t so sure about hotels, however).
We had a room service dinner (a real treat), on a small table snugged up to one of the beds, which Missy sat on, looking soulful while we ate. She is seldom at the same level as the table, so her nose was particularly aroused. We watched TV, and fell into our separate beds (Yes! a whole bed per person). Now, you’ve probably guessed what happened with the storm. It knocked down all of the trees in the campground and so glad we weren’t there. No, not that. Well, it knocked down the Moose in the Ramada parking lot and the three of us were saved. No, not that, either. Actually, it never even rained on the hotel from what we could tell. Oh well, rather safe than sorry!

Day 9: Thursday, June 18

Our big adventure today was looking for a movie theater in Kankakee, Illinois. We were given directions and headed out on the path only to discover that we would have to go under a railroad trestle with a sign that says 12’ 2” on it. (We’re an even 12’, so the book says, if you can believe it.) Go, or turn back. Try it and take off one of the roof airs (I did that once, so I’m pretty sensitive about that subject). What the heck, there are twenty cars behind us on a single lane road. “Let’s do it,” he says. Actually, it was okay; just a jingling noise as the aerial scraped the underside of the road above.
Here’s a bit of trivia for you. Did you know that the speed limit for trucks and RV’s in Illinois is 55? Talk about unfair. The cars go zipping by as the larger vehicles lumber along in the right lane. Well, most of them lumber, that is. I didn’t read the signs and wondered why I was passing so many trucks. I mentioned that to Ken and he said, “well, if you want to test the system to see if a little gray haired old lady driving a motor home would get arrested,” it was okay with him. “What,?” I said, “Why would I get arrested for going 67 mph?” Please refer to the answer to the trivia question. So, I took the pedal off the metal and got in line with the rest of the big trucks. Phooey, that’s no fun. It was more fun feeling important as the trucks blinked their headlights to tell me it was okay to pull back into the right lane.
So, here we are at the Windy City Beach and Campground, at 12,772 miles on the odometer (a prize to anyone who knows how far we’ve come). We’re on a lake where evidently the locals come with their kids to swim from the world’s smallest beach in the world’s smallest lake. After the Gulf of Mexico anything looks small, however. Missy is sleeping (as usual), on the couch, and Ken is working with headsets on his computer with his music program called Practica. I’m (obviously), working on this journal.

Day 10: Friday, June 19, 1992

Can’t believe the weather. We’ve gone from the mid 90’s down to the low 50’s — for those of you who don’t want to get out your calculators, that’s a drop of 40 degrees! We wanted cooler weather, but this? They say don’t ask for anything that you might not want. I finally understand that idea.
The Moose is handling pretty well except for one thing: the entire refrigerator empties itself on the floor anytime we make a hard right turn. Talk about a mess! So, something else to get fixed.
At 9:30 a.m. this morning we pulled into South Holland to “Team One” truck repair (actually they are specialists in fire fighting equipment — the Spartan chassis on the Moose is a fire truck chassis, by the way), to get the dash air fixed. Seems a little silly now that’s it’s so chilly, but we suppose that it will warm up sometime soon and we’ll be glad we spent the time. We had to pull into a garage slot, and spent 3-1/2 hours in the darkened area, while they sent out for a part, then finished the repair. Around 1 p.m. we both fell asleep, but not for long. Just like home, the phone rang. It was Ken’s publisher saying they would do the work necessary to combine the two books. So, we really are on vacation.
Again, we went to look for a movie, but instead found an RV repair place and they were kind enough to work on the refrigerator door, even though they were busy with others who had appointments. While we were there we noticed a very low tire (down to one-third of its pressure), so there was now one other thing to take care of, tomorrow.
We had planned to meet friends halfway between our campground and their home in Napierville. So, we trucked on into the little town of Lockport, Illinois to meet them at Public Landings. Little did any of us know two critical points. One, because it is a small town, there seemed to be no parking places more than an angled, one-car length. Two, it was their big week end of the year for something called “Canal Days,” and there was to be a parade just about dinner time.
Dinner with our friends proved to be an exciting evening. First, the food was wonderful — best of the whole trip. Second, I left my purse at the table, only discovering my folly when we were all settled in at the end of the evening at the campground, an hour past when we left the restaurant. Hoping they had found it, I called. No such luck. Purse all gone, with, of course, my life in it. Pictures of the kids I’ll never be able to replace. Credit cards, money (not a lot), checkbook, makeup, etc. You name it, I had it in my purse. I believe after screaming an crying awhile I finally said “I want to go home. Nothing is going well.” Of course, that was an extreme exaggeration. Some things were just fine. For example, ten days in close quarters and Ken and I weren’t even throwing things at each other. Models of cooperation, friendliness and affection were we. Even thinking about the good things, I went to bed in a foul mood.

Day 11: Saturday, June 20

Up early to get back into Lockport to get the tire checked out. It turned out to be fine so we stopped at the police department to file a report about my purse. They had been kind enough to tell me if we did that I would have something to show “the law” if I were stopped without a driver’s license. So, having done that we headed for Western Springs to spend the morning with the Glanz’s.
The big excitement was to be Missy meeting Roscoe (their dog). The girls (at least 7 years ago when we had Missy 1), had kidded about Roscoe being his girlfriend (they always exchange Christmas gifts). So, at long last, Roscoe, who has kinda lost his prime as a stud, and Missy, who can run rings around even a pup, met. You guessed it. Roscoe headed for a far corner of the house and skulked. He was none too happy to have a guest. Missy made herself right at home, peeing on the front hall carpeting, after greeting Barb, Charley, Gretchen, and Erin.
Charley treated us all (not Roscoe or Missy), to a wonderful lunch at Hennessey’s, a famous Western Springs restaurant. At lunch the girls presented Ken with a father’s day gift of the biggest apple you’ve ever seen. It smelled like apple cider — you know the kind? The apple was smothered first in caramel, then dipped in a layer of pecans. That’s not all. If your mouth is watering, imagine then dipping this immense structure into chocolate! Eating that apple, as we did each subsequent day, slicing off a sliver, was like a combination of a turtle (the candy), and a crisp luscious apple. Never had anything like that before; maybe never will again.
After lunch we headed to Waterford, Wisconsin to see my sister Sharon, and husband Don (famous Kaset cartoonist). They annexed a fingerlet of property that stretches out into the river, that was next to their home. It was connected by a road, but separated by some water on the side of the main property. They have really worked hard to clean out the junk that people had thrown on it, mowed a center path to the end where now stands a lovely gazebo, and a fire pit you can have real fires in while you sit on railroad ties, looking out over the water. We walked into the gazebo and scared a robin mother and its child out of a nest that was snuggled in the top of the gazebo. The baby “flew” to the ground and in fright ended up in the water. The poor thing tried to fly out and succeeded only in paddling as if learning to swim instead of fly. Don grabbed the grate from the fire pit and rescued him/her. The last we saw of the poor baby was sitting forlornly in the gazebo, us hoping his/her mother would find him.
Missy loved their land. We let her off the leash and she would run with abandon, ears flying, in any direction there seemed to be something moving. She scared off the geese, a few birds, ran after squirrels, wondering where they went when they disappeared up a tree (she never thought to look up). She would always locate our position, never going much out of our sight. Talk about a pooped puppy that night! We were tempted to leave her there, since she was having so much fun (naw!).
We had dinner at a wonderful lakeside restaurant, with giant slabs of ribs for the guys, and seafood for the ladies. At a nearby table we got a real hoot watching some young folks. A couple on one side of the table were obviously together. A single fellow was on the other side. They were a bit soused, I think, and a little loud, so we kept being drawn to look at them. Somewhere in the middle of the meal we glanced again to see the fellow on the opposite side of the table with his foot in the girl’s crotch. She didn’t seem to notice, or mind, and her date was none the wiser, but we all (including our waitress), thought it was pretty funny. Is cuckold the right word?

Day 12: Sunday, June 21

Talk about cold! We had the heater going all night in the Moose, and woke to 42 degrees in the a.m. We hadn’t plugged in the electricity, and didn’t have use of the microwave, so I heated the dog food on the floor vents. Pretty inventive, I thought, until it occurred to me I could have lit the gas stove.
We left Waterford about noon, spent an agonizing two hours on pavement that was like a washboard (highway 43 in case any of you want to avoid it). Thank goodness the refrigerator door was fixed or I might have well have put all the food on the floor myself. We decided to stop near Belvedere with the intent of spending late Sunday afternoon watching golf, and Monday doing laundry and cleaning. Found the Holiday Acres campground and talked to son Eric.

Day 13: Monday, June 22

Today was our “day off” to rest and stuff, and at 7 a.m. the noise began. Then a knock at our door told us we’d have to leave the campground because the people were there to fix the road. I think that topped it off. We looked at each other and said almost simultaneously “Let’s go home.” We began the 450 mile drive to Louisville to a campground where we were greeted by a young, bossy lady who told Ken where to go and how to do it (I think she thought he’d never driven his motor home before). By the time she was through leading him to the site, and guiding the Moose this way and that to be sure it was properly placed, we were in hysterics. When Ken checked in she said something like “I think perhaps I was a little bossy,” (hoping, I think, he would assure her not), but you know Ken. His reply: “I think you may have set a record!” She didn’t speak to him after that.
We were able to walk to a nearby hotel for dinner, touted as “just around the corner,” but requiring probably a half-mile walk, past old and dingy homes that made me nervous thinking about the walk back in the dark. Not to fear, it was fast service and we got back before dusk.

Day 14: Tuesday, June 23

This was to be a record driving day for us in the Moose — 542 miles — from Louisville, through Nashville, Chattanooga, and Atlanta, to Perry, Georgia. The drive between Nashville and Chattanooga is lovely. We hadn’t seen it on the way North because of the rain and fog, so we really enjoyed the mountains. It was easy to see the Alatoona Lake (the result of the TVA who built dams and filled in some spaces). The “islands” are actually tops of what had been mountains. There are lots of areas like this around Atlanta, too, Lake Lanier for one.
We had a bottle of Chardonnay for our last night in our 250 square foot space. Oh, yes, forgot to tell you. The living room TV fell off on its face onto the kitchen counter on a perfectly smooth road! Still working, but the color of choice is mostly purple now.

Day 15: Wednesday, June 24

At 6 a.m. (a first, in terns of time for getting up), Missy bounced on me then on Ken, as if to say “Let’s move it. We’re going home!” So, we got up, had breakfast, showered, closed it up and headed back for the last piece of the trip. We walked into the house at about 2:30 p.m., noticing how big everything was! All three of us were happy to be back. Had a good time, but glad to be home.

Excuses I Have Known
When we have a minute to sit down and talk about “Why didn’t we make the six week trip out West?” I think there will be lots of answers. Here are a few.

• The US. roads are in terrible disrepair and are either bumpy, or are being fixed, which limit you to 40 miles per hour.
• The bed on the Moose isn’t really kind to a tall person, a short chubby person, and a dog who walks in her sleep.
• There is no oven, and cooking in a micro/convection combo is dull and boring.
• Finding decent TV stations is impossible in the country.
• It’s too hot to sit outside the Moose in the evening.
• It’s too cold to sit outside the Moose in the evening.
• There are too many mosquitoes to sit out in any kind of weather in the evening.
• The people who sit out in the evening (males), are bare chested, drink beer, and belch. The ladies (like me), walk their over-fed dogs and talk about country music. (One out of two isn’t bad.)
• We like going; we don’t like getting there. What that means is traveling in the Moose is great; camping sucks.
• I hate vacuuming on my hands and knees.
Once we’re on the road we hate stopping for the items of interest so we don’t see anything interesting.
• If you think driving that thing on wash-board-like roads is awful, try it in Lockport where all roads are two-laned, narrow, pot-holed, with sharp corners, and no place to park.
• Missy gets dirty and needs practically a daily bath.
• One main occupation is trying to find campgrounds with 50 amps (which, in hot weather is the only way we can use both roof airs and survive), and cable. Neither are available in most campgrounds.
• Another main occupation is finding rest stops or turn offs where the Moose has enough room to turn around, in order to change drivers.


I think what we “decided” on the way home is that short trips with specific goals in mind are fun. Prolonged travel and camping is not. So, the final question is: “Will we keep the Moose?” Stay tuned.

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